It wasn't warm but it was night and boots, thick smelly jerseys, long hair and youth added degrees more efficiently than plane tickets to summer or reminiscing. There were five friends and an old green car. There was learner grade pot in my first session quantities and enough confusion and noise to occupy changing faces. There was the honorary DJ who would do the job better than any and would go on to do it for many. There was a driver whose and dedication to the cause was always taken for granted and two more, the fighter and the dreamer, who like the first two, the fifth would think of often and whisper all their surnames with a smile.
It was a Seattle autumn, the year Frances was born, or should have been, because everything seemed right and everyone must have been happy? Time was slow and the cold night wasn't cold enough for youth... The spot was a dark road behind a tin pot airport which seemed larger then and witnessed by none but a wind sock, which would, one far off night, be stolen, they talked, smoked, posed and pretended time was slow. They made grand plans and they knew the way. They were tall and strong and lying to themselves but it wasn't cold enough for youth... This was ritual and potent. That car was church and not a soul but them knew it. It would one day be sold, replaced and no doubt sold again but no friends could take that car where these friends did and no driver could be as generous. No friends could be closer and no distance they drove far enough. But they were just kids and this memory could not be older or this autumn colder.
Nights like this can only end one way. The way home. And that way has a secret and a song and the DJ knew this and selected the theme. Strange awkward peace descends, warm like a friends hug but awkward like truth. The dumbest of the five listened and showing his hand remarked to great laughter. They knew he was soft and simple. He knew it too but also that they did and was always glad about that. He never fooled anyone except himself but that night he did not. While he hoped the laughter would stop it was not from shame but because he wanted to listen and soak in this moment and them. All better, stronger, more interesting, more loved and more beautiful than he. Because he wanted to remember and because he knew time was not slow and right then knew that this was the quick. In that moment he promised himself he would remember this night and so he added it to his list. Now longer than he would ever dare dream, believe or deserve and there on the list it sits. It haunts and cries, wishes and hopes. Sits humbly proud by scars and wrinkles and lucky by crematoriums and hospitals. Blessed next to blond hair on a grandfather's birthday and a sweet mother's last breath. He'd never write this list and its many footnotes but lists like this you never have to. You can't forget wrinkles any more than you can lipstick and tears. Those lists write themselves but despite the promises to remember, lists often won't match. Well it's still there anyway, on this list. That promise to not forget can't be undone now even if it makes that dumb kid old. The lessons he knew he would learn were learnt. That time he knew would pass has passed and the names he swore he wouldn't forget are just as real and sweet and come as often as they always did. Falling out his mouth, embarrassingly easy, bitter sweet and ancient. So it's autumn here and cold and I'm at that spot and witnessed by none bar a wind sock I whisper those four names. Nights like this only end one way. I hope you found your way home.
UPB 4 EVA