At lunchtime, we planned whose house to go to, but we never planned what we would do. We had no fear of getting bored.
Walking down the stairs to the basement, no matter whose house, was always full of possibilities. What would we do that night? Would we make hundreds of paper airplanes and throw them at each other like darts? Would we throw a blanket over someone so they couldn’t see and make them try to catch us, not stopping until the blanketed person inevitably hit a pole? Would we play Halo using only rocket launchers so that every death was a spectacular display of physics as our players rag-dolled across the map? We only did what we wanted to do, and everything we did needed nothing more.
We drank too much soda and swore with newfound freedom, elated at being adult and terrified that our parents would hear and chastise us. We watched rated-R movies and turned the volume down so our parents couldn’t hear, but they usually heard anyways. My mom walked in on us watching The 40-Year-Old Virgin during the scene when Elizabeth Banks is pleasuring herself with a showerhead. She then declared to my friends, “We don’t watch movies like this in our house,” but she watched it in our house a few months later and ended up enjoying it.
No amount of chastising or fear stopped us. We wanted the entire world, and every weekend we took it.
Kevin, Trevor, and I used to skateboard just to get from A to B before Tony Hawk Pro Skater showed us that skateboarding was really about tricks. And even after we learned how to ollie down stairs and kickflip and pop shove-it and grind on ledges, we still preferred skateboarding just to get from A to B. We’d skateboard to Cross Plains Elementary School and pee on the roof and run away from the local police officer, our hearts beating hard and laughter spilling out of us like music until we were back at someone’s house, cooling off in the air conditioning with a sweet sheen of sweat sticking to our shirts. We stayed up late listening to Sum 41 and pretended to be in a band until one day we were actually in a band and we sucked but we didn’t care.
There was a quarry near my house with dunes and huge machinery, and in freshman year my friends and I finally snuck past the “No Trespassing” sign and ruined the perfectly smooth slopes of sand. We’d climb to the top of the towering conveyer belt and jump twenty feet down, erupting in clouds of sand as we rolled all the way down the dune’s soft surface to the gravel floor. We climbed up the ridges of the digger’s mammoth tires and weaseled our way to its roof to watch our friends’ daring stunts: a flip, a twist, a goofy grin with a thumbs up. When night came we’d empty our shoes of sand and walk along Enchanted Valley Road as the sun set golden on the cornfields around us. We shook off in the driveway, tousling the sand from our hair, and rinsed with the hose before thumping downstairs to the basement where we fell asleep in piles on the floor.
Matt and I rarely paid attention in World Literature because we were too busy writing offensively erotic poetry that we’d later sing for our friends at lunch. Like travelling minstrels, we told bawdy tales of well-endowed men and buxom women coalescing in inspired, juvenile ways, most infamously in “Orgy on the Moon.” We often found ourselves in pun competitions—battles of wit—trying to elicit the most laughter from the people around us. Sometimes our conversations would devolve into throwing fruit around the lunchroom because we were young and we could. I threw a pineapple behind my back once, and forty feet away Samantha looked about the room with her hand on her head while our table tried to muffle its laughter. As myth would have it, there is still a rotten banana sitting on a ledge somewhere.
At Matt’s house, instead of collecting in the basement we’d crawl up storage shelves to the loft in his garage. Someone would pass a six-pack of cold root beer up and all of us would lounge in a circle and talk about nothing, and it felt like everything. It was usually just us boys, but one night we invited a girl that I liked. We spent the night flirting, sending secret text messages even though she was right beside me. She left early, so I walked her out. We giggled and slipped on the fresh snow all the way to her car. She hesitated beside the door, clutching her keys in her hands, looking at me with snowflakes in her eyelashes. I wanted to kiss her. When she drove away, I wished I had. Back in the garage loft I was still glowing with the possibility. She and I could have kissed. My friends and I stayed up until our eyelids drooped and our conversation grew goofy with fatigue.
I want to do it all again.