a summer night: a short story about life and experience

“In this moment, we are alive, and I swear we are infinite” -The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Far too often, I find myself striving for those moments, moments when life is so close to perfect, you can’t believe that it’s actually happening and the end seems eerily imminent. But, I’ve finally learned to shove aside those thoughts and be alive in that whole, real, perfect moment, and nothing can touch me; when freedom seems easiest and peace is so deep that it exudes throughout my whole being.

As I flung the door open that evening, I heard the voices of people that I haven’t been giving my proper attention and friendship to. A smile easily spread across my summer tanned face. Conversation was already abuzz and I slipped right into the timbre of voices of people I care so deeply for.

Dinner was being prepared by a few, but we all found ourselves in the kitchen, like family, of course, enjoying the presence of one another more than we could even appreciate. Sharing a homemade meal together around one table does something wonderful to a group of friends, it inexplicably binds them together in a way that can’t be mimicked.  We mostly laughed our way through the meal, the food disappearing faster than anyone could have guessed. The meal turned into talks on the back porch as dusk approached both slowly and quickly at the same time, our voices urging on the thrill of the summer night.

As the time came to leave, I felt I had captured the essence of being a child again.  I guess that’s kind of what summer does to me.  It was an easy joy, an inexplicable happiness.  It didn’t matter why I felt this way, things were exactly what they seemed.  The night wouldn’t dare be over yet; there was something else waiting for me.  All I could think to do or that made sense to do was drive.

The Tennessee summer night air was balmy and thick. I felt that I could almost grasp a handful of the rushing wind right before it would slide through my fingers.  As I thrust my arm out parallel to each inch of road that was slipping behind me, I felt the intoxicating air envelope my whole body.  The outside temperature felt the same as my internal, one terribly lovely being.

I kept driving farther south, farther from stoplights and strip malls until the inky black greenery took over.  I made turns on a whim, choosing only ones that would lead me farther into the summer darkness.  I tried to occasionally pull out my phone to find my bearings, but the bright white glow was blinding against the blackness that surrounded me. It burned my eyes, surely a sign to forget that I was lost or that I needed to get back to where I started. My eyes played tricks on me. The crickets made their own music trying to drown out the sound of my own. I would listen to what the night was telling me. So, occasionally, I would slow the car to a stop and rest my chin on my car door, closing my eyes, breathing deeply and listening.  Rarely ever do I find moments of complete rest, but I had found it there.  However, these glimpses of utter rest are so fleeting for me and it was gone in a matter of minutes. I slowly accelerated my car in an attempt to coax every last drop of rest out of the moment.

I eventually found my way back to a road whose name I recognized and knew that the night was drawing to a close. The bittersweet feelings only lasted a short bit because I’ve experienced too much life to expect these times of complete peace and freedom to last long.  But, now I can appreciate each experience as it is happening, soak up and fully drown myself in each minute. I’ve found that these experiences happen much more frequently when I don’t put parameters on how each one is supposed to look.

I strive so much for the ‘experience’ that it doesn’t even matter exactly what I’m doing, as long as I’m there and I’m real and I feel it.

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