park that car, drop that phone / by laurel

Let me tell you about my last day as a child.

Like moths to a flame (for lack of a better analogy), we returned to the desert. Josh the Hippie, Ryan the Idealist, and myself. Summer was still early in its conception, burgeoning in the mix of hot daytime sun and cool nighttime air. We'd gotten out of the house, stifled by the drawbacks of the domestic life. We couldn't be constrained by walls and carpet and couches and sinks. Not tonight.

Tonight we were archeologists, digging through the sand of a million seconds already spent in search of evidence. In our minds bounced a million memories of that same desert; covered in snow, covered in stars, covered in dust; covered in the tire tracks that traversed uncharted territory. Tonight we were waiting. Ryan and Josh were waiting for the epic sweep of their summer abroad to begin. I was waiting to grow up. Or run away. Or face adulthood, wincing and uneasy.

Collectively we shared the crushing pressure of a summer that needed to be monumental. What we had instead was an empty park, for lack of anywhere else to go. I squinted into the stars, willing two of everything into existence so I could feel the weight of the universe on my shoulders. Josh and Ryan were scuffling against asphalt, scraping bits of skin and jeans and egos into the ground.

There was nowhere else to go. So we wandered into the park, one arthritic tree silhouetted against the molten glow of a lamp. The swings stirred, lynched on cold metal bars. There was a scuffed baseball diamond under my feet and the breathing, living sound of a desert night spread out before me.

A park at night bears the tired sags of an elderly man who has lived one too many years he doesn't understand. I thought about how tonight was my last night as a child. I thought as we ran through the grass, picking our feet up to keep the dew from soaking our socks, and I thought as we stared at the sky, at each other, at the ground. This is the year I'll look back on and not understand.

The park held nothing for us anymore. It was a blank stare, an empty room. We returned to the car, squirming under the weight of bruised expectations. We went out in search of something that resembled an epic adventure, and instead found a deconstructed myth. The excitement of the desert was fading.

And fading with it, too, was the memory of parking that car, of running through that grass, of the stirring of those swings. We couldn't be epic, we realized. So instead we waited.

Almost a year later, we're still waiting.

"Used to be one of the rotten ones, and I liked you for that
Now you're all gone, got your make up on, and you're not coming back."
Broken Social Scene