The Song That Changed Your Life
Congregations by Carla Gadula
This story is on the shortlist for The Song That Changed Your Life challenge.
Video source: Youtube.
He looked for the key hidden under a tight corner of the deck. All of us with shiny cheeks, plaid flannel shirts and longing, waited for the click that meant it would begin. The cottage was a 75-kilometer escape from suburbia.
We turned sixteen in 1990, old enough to drive, siphon gas in a pinch and pack four 6 footers into the back seat.
Leam jacked up the heat inside because it felt like minus twenty. We trickled in, threaded into pockets and loosened up. A beer keg chilled against a ruffle of snow. My best friend Betty stood out on the porch, cigarette lit, all of us taking turns having tormented, brilliant conversations.
We were so beautifully awkward then. The boys, obnoxious and pumped with adrenaline, spewed out taunts at the weakest link. Evolutionary biology in baseball caps. Us girls waxed syrupy wine coolers down our throats and talked incessantly about potential hook-ups, the meaning of life, John Cusack movies.
No one was thinking about context. Small talk didn’t exist. We either blurted out nothingness or strokes of genius. We were young so we thought our words echoed everywhere.
Martin lit a joint, pin-thin, passed it around. He asked Betty, “But, how do you know it’s actually love?”
She countered, “When you don’t ask yourself the question.”
Everyone was gangly limbed and smooth. The scent of Polo cologne mixed with ketchup chips and the embers from the old stove fire. Leam described The Best Night Ever - nostalgic already about last Saturday. Steve corroborated. The tale would be the funniest until its’ dethroning by next week’s embellishments.
Jamie put on the Tragically Hip CD. Heads magnetically syncopated between sips of beer. Soon the boys became one large being, dancing like drums, cowboy boots unceremoniously kicking at the air.
Things moved in random intervals. A legend was cultivated about the 'green girl' who puked in Ashley’s shoe. Sylvia discovered that he had cheated. I kissed someone in impulse layered with regret. Jason tried to elevate the inanity into some form of Jungian philosophy. Fists collided in air. Uninhibited, uninhabited, unencumbered - we were smart as hell, but young and stupid. I breathed in the lyrics to "Blow At High Dough" and tried to philosophize back.
An even thirty kids but it felt as intimate as four. I remember that party - a brutally cold night of luxury and time.
Carla Gadula lives in Ottawa, ON.