These cool nights are unassumingly sumptuous. They might not seem like anything special, but they are. Their secret lies in the tawdry hood that cloaks what lies beneath. When your lungs have not had the pleasure of recycling carbon dioxide for all that long, it’s easy to want little and need less. With the help of a ghastly breeze, an empty tortilla chip bag crawls across the pavement and out of the sallow streetlight’s glare. In the shadows, a soft hand strikes a match, letting it expire as it falls to the curb, over and over and over again. The words flow like this fifth of whiskey: not constantly, but in liberal doses when the time is right, from body to wretched body.
In this unholy communion, everything is shared, from the sacred to the sacrilegious; and it’s all sacrilege. The ashes, the empty bottles, the rock ‘n’ roll music exist only as evidence of everything we do not need. They are not manifestations of the bond we share, but a silent rebellion against everything everyone else believes we need. As the hour grows later, the night seems to stretch its languid fingertips closer to infinity, and each match falls to the ground a little more slowly. Should we choose to look, we’d see the stars begin to weep, but our selves would start to sing an uncouth hymn of naked joy.
If we keep this up, there will come a day when the last of our youth has slipped away and in the absence of self-awareness, this romance will crumble into the basest, most pathetic tragedy – or worse, a humorless parody. These physical constructs will cease to act as our rebellion. They will morph into a surrender, an acquiescence that our shroud of resilience has fallen and our bond now reflects the bad whiskey and gas station matchbooks that we pass from hand to calloused hand. Perhaps we may cling to the shroud that isn’t there, but one day, we will wake up in late afternoon and realize that we want something else, that we need something more – that we can no longer make a life out of living off these nights.
I can see that day looming in the distance, but it feels nearer than ever. Lately the nights feel like the air before a summer storm: suffocatingly stifling and close, and charged with an electricity that intensifies as that future day creeps closer to the present. It’s terrifying. I’m not ready to relinquish my youthful and borderline juvenile claim on these deliciously irresponsible nights of simple community – and I’m afraid I never will be.