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It's Times Like These
The Bright shines down through my curtains onto my bed and sets the room aglow with a golden glazing. It’s 8:30 a.m. I lay in bed for another few minutes before getting up to get ready. I hop into the shower and brush my teeth before going back to my room to get dressed. I walk into my room and see the pipe lying on the desk near my bed. I pick it up and take a hit. Blah! It’s beat. I empty it out and pack another bowl. A live version of champagne supernova is playing in the background, as I taste the fresh greens enter my body. I get dressed as I smoke. I put on my khaki pants and tie them up with a black shoelace that hangs to about two inches above my knees. I open my top drawer and grab a white undershirt and put it on. The white undershirt has a loose fitting to it so that it fits snuggly under my black Flogging Molly shirt. I grab my red, green, and blue plaid skateboard with purple plaid trucks attached. My board rides on soft stained white 52 mm wheels. I slip on my black and white plaid vans and notice that the lace is ripping on my left shoe and a small hole that is beginning to tear through the canvas, and head out the door. I run back in my room to grab my pipe and bag, then head downstairs.
I walk downstairs and head into the kitchen to get breakfast. The house is empty as no one is home. My mom is in Colorado skiing the end of the year runs, while my brother is in Cape Cod sailing at the regatta. I like being home alone more than when everyone is around, much more calm and relaxing. I go into the pantry and grab the box of Lucky Charms. I head towards the cabinets to grab a bowl, snagging the milk from the fridge as I pass. I pour the Lucky Charms into the bowl and quickly drown them in milk. I grab a spoon and grab a seat at the kitchen table. I sit in the kitchen eating my breakfast just reflecting on the sweet silence that fills the house. The sun’s rays gleam in through the windows of the living room and the lighting the kitchen just right so that no lights need to be turned on. As I eat, the phone rings. I go and answer it.
“Why aren’t you in school?” my mom asks through the receiver. She doesn’t sound mad.
“It’s the first beautiful day of spring and Chris, and Trey want to film parts,” I answer back calmly.
“Oh, ok. You need to go at least once next week though.”
“I’m going on Monday because I have an economics test, but I’m leaving after 7th to go to lunch with Emily.”
“Can you possibly stay all day Tuesday?”
“Fine. Anything else?”
“You want to have another party, don’t you?”
“Only if you’ll stay all day Tuesday.”
There is a pause of silence for a few seconds until my mom says:
“I love you Curtis.”
“I love you to mom,” I respond.
Some kids feel bad for me because they think I have such negligent parents, but I know it’s not true. My dad did this shit when he was in high school, but hid it from my gram. He’d just rather me tell him what I was doing than hide it from him. My mom though let’s me party because she thinks that drinking is helping me to cope with the divorce from my dad when I was eight. I’m not a god damn alcoholic.
I finish my breakfast and put my bowl in the sink. I see how perfectly clean the counters and sink are so I just put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I grab my iPod and board and head out the door. Band of Horses’ “The Funeral” is playing as I skate out my driveway to the street. The bright spring morning greets me so energetically that I can’t help but smile. The soft road just glides underneath my wheels as I carve down the street, making the journey so much more enjoyable as the sun illuminates the backdrop of the lakefront. The cool temperature of 64 degrees makes the breeze from riding downhill wrap around me like the softest silk blanket. I cruise down the road and cross the street to the catholic school near my house. They didn’t have school today, but I can already see the track and lacrosse teams practicing. I skate by the track team and say hey to a few guys that I know from meets, competitions, and when I once went here. They’re chill kids.
I get to the four set first and warm up with a few 360 flips, waiting for Chris and Trey to arrive. Chris and Trey get there a couple minutes later, and as Chris gets the camera ready, Trey and I wax up the ledges. Chris asks if I want to spark up a bowl and I answer back with a yes. We go to Chris’ car for a few minutes.
After Trey and I head up to the top of the run-up for the stairs. Trey goes first and lands a perfect varial heelflip down the stairs and over the man hole at the bottom. I go next and follow him up with a backside noseblunt slide down the ledge. Trey and I run over to each other and hug and give each other high fives, stoked that we landed our tricks first try. Chris calls us over to show us the film for the shots. He shows Trey his shot first. Trey’s trick is a perfect ender, the golden sun casting an identically perfect shadow on the pavement as he floats a huge varial heel over the gap. Trey asks if Chris could put the film in slow motion for his ender. Chris agrees, and heads over to show me my sequence. Instead of getting under the trick, Chris got above it. He stood in between the two bushes at the front and end of the ledge, making a perfect window of the ledge. I come into the shot as I just get on the ledge with my back to the camera and me facing the lakefront, and exit the shot with me sliding out of view. Chris tells me he wants to do the shot again, but this time he wants to shoot it parallel to the ledge and than have the bushes shot fade into the parallel angle. I tell him to put it in slow motion and put that as my ender.
Today is turning into a great day. I and my best friend just landed the best enders first try. It’s not even 11.
We skate at the stairs for another 30 minutes before heading over to the quad section to test our flatground and bench skills. I start the line by popping a hardflip to nose manual and weave around the random grass patches placed about the quad. Trey follows up with a backside flip to manual up the 15 foot section of sidewalk that leads to the center. He closes it out with a front bigspin over the crack. Chris brings up the rear, but lays down the best line. He pops the slowest nollie 360 flip I’ve ever seen and comes down in a perfect nose manual. He rides it out across the whole quad and pops the most perfect backside 360 and lands it so cleanly. Trey and I just watch in amazement before jumping and running over to Chris to congratulate him and tell him great fucking job man. We than turn our assault to the benches littered around the quad.
As we roll up to the benches “Kids” by MGMT starts playing and it’s like an adrenaline shot to my heart. I can feel the energy as I stomp down and pop my board into the air, jumping with me as it approaches the height of the bench. I put a little more weight on my back trucks and land with them dead center on the edge of the bench. I slide my 5-0 all the way to the end of the bench and float off the end of the bench with a backside 180. Chris follows me with a smith grind, and Trey finishes it out with a nosegrind. We skate at the bench for a solid hour before ending our session when Emily, Heather, and Gabby call us to hang out. We head to the local taco joint to meet them, and grab a booth. I sit in between Emily and Chris. Trey is sitting across the table with his arms around Heather and Gabby. We talk and laugh about our days so far as we eat out tacos and burritos. We all discuss our plans for the afternoon before everyone comes over for the party tonight. I get a call from Kyle asking if we can pick him up before the end of eighth. I said sure man, and we bid our farewells to the girls. They we’re going to Emily’s to get ready for the party tonight.
We head to the school and we just drive in silence. Admiring the beauty of this perfect spring day.
We pull into the school parking lot as we see Kyle walking out the doors in the back. We greet and jeer him as he gets in the car and we drive off. Kyle tells us about a fight between two freshmen and how our 7th period teacher ripped apart some girl for failing the class. I ask him if he knew how many people were coming tonight. He said he didn’t know for sure, but said a lot of kids were talking about it in school today. We pass a joint around, and Kyle asks what our plans for the rest of this beautiful spring afternoon were going to be. We all shout back in harmony;
“BUDS, BOARDS, AND BROS!’
We all laugh and joke as we drive into the village to skate this bank in a parking lot, and possibly meet up with some girls from our neighbor school. We drive over to the parking lot where the bank is, and as the rest of the guys warm up I grab my Nikon. I take pictures as the guys just land banger after banger. After an hour we leave the banks and go to the 10 set near the supermarket. As we get to the supermarket I get a call from my friends Danny and Brian. They tell me they were just getting out of class and wanted to know what we were up to. I tell him where we are and to meet us here. When they pull up they have two cars full of people. After we greet and say hi to everyone, we start to skate. About twenty minutes in, Kyle goes into the supermarket and comes back out with two thirty packs. After everyone grabs a beer we start the pre-gaming and make a toast to the beautiful spring day, and night ahead of us. We skate and chill and party for awhile but we head out to go back to my house to get ready for the party. Before we leave Chris and Kyle go into the store and get three thirty packs each. It’s about 4:30 when we get back to my house. I grab the burgers and hot dogs from inside and go out to get the grill started. The guys already have the garage open, tables up, grill started, and pong table already started.
I cook the hot dogs and hamburgers while playing flip cup waiting for the food to cook. As the first batch comes off the grill, the first group of guests arrive. And of course it should be none other than Molly, Matt, Eric, Stephanie and Kelly. We all greet each other, and give out hugs and drinks. As Oasis plays in the background, everyone is eating, drinking and just having a good time.
As time goes by more and more people arrive and the tailgating gets going. Around seven o’clock everyone hits that perfect buzz from kisses with Mary Jane, and drinks with Sam. The lights that are cirss-crossed above the driveway go on as the sun starts to set, illuminating the party below.
7:30. Game time. Everyone crams into the living room as we get ready for first round playoff action against out rivals from the north. I have about 60 people jammed into my living room anxiously waiting the puck drop. Everyone grabs one more burger and drink before the start of the first. We all crowd around the TV and watch as the opening seconds of the first tick away. About seven minutes in and one of the enforcers on the other team took a cheap at our captain. Two of our guys skate over and a little scrum ensues, but the refs break it up before it can turn into any fights. As the first period begins to wind down, the tension thickens with minor scuffles and dirty plays. End of the first:0-0.
The game is close. It’s pretty quiet in my living room as everyone watches the game with bated breath. The backdrop of the setting sun’s orange and red rays pierce through the trees as the second begins. A few people light cigarettes and pass around joints. The second period starts and right off the bat there is a fight at center ice. Both players square off and circle each other waiting for the other to make the first move. They close in and our player starts throwing rights and connects with each hit. The other guy tries and shields his face from the punches raining down on him. Our friendly canuck counters quickly with a left jab that stuns our guy for a brief second and tries to get in another few shots, but to no avail. The Canadian finally goes down as the home town hero rips his club’s jersey off. He calmly skates over to the bench taunting the other team’s players. The whole arena is loud with cheers, but is silenced quickly as our captain is blindsided on a late hit. The captain just lays on the ice motionless. Everyone is silent as we watch a stretcher cart him off the ice. The coaches make a line change as the refs get everyone at center ice for the resumption of play.
It all happened so fast. The puck dropped and the gloves came next. Everyone squares off with a member of the opposite club and they proceed to kick the shit out of each other. Fists are flying, and blood is pouring from some faces with broken noses and cut faces. Without notice or warning, the other team’s bench comes flying onto the ice and charges the brawl in progress at center ice. Our boys hop into the mix and intervene the charging line. The coaches can be seen yelling and swearing at each other as mass confusion continues to take over at center ice. The cameras zoom into the two coaches just as the home colors coach swings with a hard left. You can see as a scarlet river begins to flow from the opposing coaches’ face. He teeters for a few seconds before slowly slumping down onto the bench. It takes nearly a half hour before the referees finally get everything under control.
After it has all ended, there had been 216 penalty minutes tallied, and 11 players, 2 goalies, a coach, and a mascot all ejected. You couldn’t tell which red line was the right one as blood covers the ice from all the dripping faces.
The rest of the period goes by with each team getting closer and closer to scoring that elusive first goal, but none succeed. The period ends 0-0.
All eyes are on the goalies as the third period starts. Everyone watching this game is just wondering how much longer each goalie can weather the storm of pucks and bodies crashing into their nets. As the period dwindles down past the halfway point, people watch as save after miraculous save is made. Both goalies thwarting the attempts of each club’s top goal scorers. Oohs and ahhs accompany each shot as goals come near inches away from being tallied. With two minutes to go, the opponents ice the puck. The puck drop comes deep into their territory. The puck hits the ice and we win the draw. The puck gets shot wide of the netminder and two of our guys chase in after it. The puck squirts free and we pursue, but our guy gets tripped up. With a minute left we head to the power play. The whole room is silent as we watch the play unfold. Fifty seconds left. We bring it in over the blue line and our winger rifles a shot just wide. They’re defensemen gets the puck and in turns fire it out of their zone and all the way down two hundred feet of ice. Thirty seconds. We regroup and begin the charge. As we approach the blue line our center dumps it in as the wings chase in after it. We get pinned up along the boards. Twenty seconds. The puck pops out in front but is tipped just wide as the whole arena gasps. Fifteen seconds. Time is running out as the puck gets back to the point. It’s quickly passed down to the bottom of the circle. Ten seconds. The puck is passed hard from the bottom of the circle to the opposite side of the net…
The room just exploded. Screams erupted and people jumped. The whole room goes crazy as people scream and cheer. We scored with 7 seconds left. The noise was so loud in there that it sounded like a bomb had just gone off. I look around as everyone is high fiving, and cheering. My eyes look around the room till I see Emily standing in front of me and our eyes lock. We stare at each other for what seems like an eternity. The whole room seems silent as Emily and I lose each other in our eyes. We begin to lean in towards each other but are quickly brought back to reality as Chris and Trey shove me a beer and we toast to the first game being ours. As soon as the game ends, the music starts and the party begins. Everyone fills out the different rooms of the house as beer pong tables are set up. In all there are five tables set up, one in the garage, living room, kitchen, dining room, and on the pool table downstairs. Emily and I get separated as me and Chris line up to play Molly and Matt in the dining room. I shoot first and Chris follows up by shooting at the same time I do. We both sink our shots so we get roll backs as they drink. Molly drinks half her cup and as she lowers her cup I take my shot and sink in the drink she is holding. I scream death cup and everyone cheers as we just shut out the two best players at school. I look at them and just go;
“Shut out equals’ naked lap. Have fun kiddies.”
We walk out to the front porch and watch as Molly and Matt strip down. They walk over to the front lawn and line up next to each other. Heather is standing in between them with a bandanna in her hand as if she was starting a drag race. She drops her hands and Molly and Matt take off. Everyone cheers as they sprint full on around the house. Little did they know that a few people were lined up with water balloons behind the house waiting for them. Molly is the first to reach the backyard and is greeted with a barrage of balloons as Matt rounds the corner. Molly goes down as she is hit with a balloon in the face and Matt rounds behind a tree to avoid the one thrown at him. Molly and Matt both make it all around the house, soaked and out of breath. Everyone cheers as they cross the imaginary finish line and grab their clothes scattered about the front lawn. Once they get dressed we all back inside to continue our night of celebrations.
Around 1 am the music slows down to a blend of Oasis, Coldplay, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as everyone dances and relaxes. I’m sitting on the couch in the living room as Emily comes up to me and grabs my hand. She leads me into the living room and we start to dance. Coldplay is playing as we sway gently from left to right just staring at each other. Her hands are wrapped around my neck and she pulls me close to her and tells me to never let go. I wrap my hands around her waist and tell her that I’ll always be here for you. We stare at each other for a few seconds longer, and then begin to lean forward. As we kiss, it feels as if it’s just me and her. As Coldplay winds down we break apart our embrace. I look at her as she bites her lower lip, and stares back at me with an innocent, loving look. “Clocks” fades into “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi.
Its 2:30 and everyone raises their drinks and sings along with cudders.
“Crush a bit, lil bit, roll it up, take a hit. Feeling lit, feeling right, 2 am summer night…”
The rest of the crowd sings as I’m brought back to reality as Emily grabs my hand and leads me outside. We head to the garage, but quickly turn back as a thick haze of smoke greets us with a few kids playing flip cup. As we head back inside I ask her why we didn’t stay in the garage. She tells me that she has something important to tell me in private. I grab a beer as we head upstairs. We go into my room and as she sits down on my bed I take a sip from the bottle and set in on the desk as I turn on my lamp. I sit down next to her.
“How long have we’ve known each other for,” she asks me with a serious tone.
“About 4 ½ years now, why,” I respond with a quizzical look.
“Since freshman year you and I have been talking and sharing memories. Since the day I met you my feelings for you have grown so much. I’ve never thought that I would feel this way about someone this young. I-“
I cut her short with a kiss. Silence fills the room as we kiss. I pull away and tell her;
“I love you Emily.”
She stares at me lovingly and finally responds with;
“I love you to.” I look into her eyes and we lose each other once again as we start to kiss. We kiss so gently and softly as if our lips were made of china and fragile. We lay back not breaking the bond of our kiss. I lie on my side and wrap my arm around her waist and pull her close to me. She grabs the bottom of my shirt and begins to lift it off breaking our kiss momentarily. I roll onto my back as she takes off her shirt and lies on top of me. We begin to kiss again as I feel her hands move down across my chest and stomach...
6:30 am. The early morning dawn light glows into my room. Emily is asleep next to me with her arm around my chest and curled up next to me. I lift the blanket and get up as quietly and softly as possible so that I didn’t disturb her. I put on my boxers and khaki pants from the night before. Shoe lace belt, no shirt. I open the door and head downstairs. As I walk into the dining room, a kid passed out in the rocking chair greets me. Two more kids are sleeping on the table holding hands. I walk into the kitchen to see Chris asleep on the floor with a bottle in his hand. I go to the fridge and grab two beers as I exchange the empty one in Chris’ hand for a fresh one. I pop off the cap off my bottle as I walk to living room. As I put on my shoes I look at the medley of kids asleep on the couch and floor. I turn around to go outside and see Trey asleep with Heather and Gabby in the bath tub. I sip my beer as I walk outside to the bright sun now peaking off in the distance. I see three kids asleep in a line sleeping in little lawn chairs, positioned around the smoldering embers of a camp fire. I finish my beer and set it down on the concrete step leading to the backdoor as I go back inside. I go back upstairs and rouse Emily awake and tell her to get dressed. She puts on a pair of my sweatpants and a Ramones t shirt. I grab the blanket and tell her to follow me. We go into the bathroom and we climb out the window onto my roof. I set the blanket down and Emily and I lay down on it. We cuddle up close and lay there as we watch the sun rise over the lake and poke its rays through the trees.
Around 9 am, Chris and Trey stumble outside and ask me if I want to go have a hangover session at the catholic school. I look at Emily and she smiles at me and says go. I give her another soft kiss and tell her I love her as I climb back through the window. I put on a pair of socks and a t shirt and go downstairs to grab my board and meet them. As we skate down the street towards the school, the three of us side by side, just coasting in the early sunlight I just think to myself;
“It’s time like these I learn to live again.”