Night Riders

We were all piled in Derek’s car, smudged together, radiating warmth onto one another. We’d been cold and the quinceañera was whatever; all those relatives wafting around, waffling, serving up “look how much you’ve grown!” sentences to fill the space between the years. Awkward cocktails.

I listened to how much weed my cousins were smoking, how my aunt had drug tested them, how this was what it’s like to be a teenager. I thought about how the billboard by my house back in San Francisco reads, “Marajuana Has Arrived!”.

— Listen to this song, it’s the one by Roger Waters I told you about. — Yeah, yeah…

— Pink Floyd.

— Riiiight!
— Shh, Max, shut up.

— Okay, here…

AMUSED TO DEATH PLAYS
THE ALMOST SILENCE OF SEVEN TEENAGERS AS THEY LISTEN

— This is the part where he talks about the aliens found Earth, how humanity died because they just killed each other

TWO MORE MINUTES PASS STILL LISTENING

— Oh, and it references 1984 at the end…

— Great riffs.
— Yeah, you’d really get along with my friends. We just listen to music and talk about life…

— Bonfires on the beach…

— …You know you always have a house wherever I am. And music is the best thing in the whole world.

— Yeah.

My cousins, my brother and sister, and I stayed there a while longer, huddled on each other’s laps, all those years growing up together between the bars of our own worlds and expanding obligations melting into that moment. All the putting our parents to bed, their drunk yelling, the fast boat, sticky lemonade, The Store with pennies and nickels, sunburnt backs, bridge jumping in the velvet darkness. Surfing in the late afternoon, goosebumps flesh peaking out from wetsuits we’d pee in to warm our legs. The Wedge, Newport summers. Late night Taco Bell and the Wii at Pat and Derek’s house that we’d once drooled over. Christmas parties, Thanksgiving, birthdays, soirees; all those times when it took time, in our ironed shirts and new duds, to size up the growth spurts, attitudes, a new haircut or a new aspiration, and to laugh with each other once again.

But in that moment, our lives, our escapades, the last round of braces and the end of football season— we were invincible. The seven of us, rolled up in Derek’s truck where we used to throw down towels under sandy bums and surfboards in the back, huddled up, hiding out from a party full of people, stuck another annual cocktail party in fleeting youth, irreverent, rebellious, nonchalant, simple, pure.

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