Monday, February 9, 2009

The East Heights Blackout of 1999: Debra

I think I was more disappointed than anything else, first because I was a week away from eighteen and second because everyone's parents had something to do despite the weather, and I was stuck at home with no car or predetermined destination. Add on top of that both my parents claiming that they were going to throw me out into the cold sooner than later and the rumors circulating around about me in the Easton hallways, and it was shaping up to be a pretty shitty Friday night.
The weather only made things worse as I waited for my vision to get blurry after pouring myself a thick glass of rum and Dr. Pepper (which was on sale that week) around eight o'clock once my parents fled the house for foggy suburban lights. I remember looking out the glass sliding door, watching everything blow around and wondering, if I passed out in the snow, how long would it take for somebody to find me. Would I be indefinitely frozen until the spring sun thawed my stiff body from the ground? Or would they notice my absence right away?
Gina's call interrupted all of my thoughts on winter mortality; her plans disappointing, but nevertheless worth a moment of my night. I was soon putting my face back on, thick shades of blue eyeshadow and lipstick making me appear moderately glamorous in the December night. Gina was late, of course, pulling into my driveway around ten, before both of us were slowly barreling along the reflectively-white and slushy caked roads towards Max's house on the outskirts of civilization. It was halfway through this expanded trip that we saw the first few house lights flicker, before going out completely.
By the time we arrived at Max's, everything was black; our stoned host opening the door with a Jack-Frost-scented candle in hand. Gina and I both laughed at such a sight before following Max back to his room and surprisingly finding Jonas sitting Indian-style on the floor, reading comic books with a green plastic camping lantern. His beard had grown thicker since getting back from another semester at State; the expression on his face upon first seeing us, a cross-between joy and irritation.
I hesitantly sat down next to Jonas on the floor; our mutually exclusive rapport re-igniting like the generators would the following morning. We were friends and he loved me once, I think, back when the confusion of Easton High was still on his plate. We were suddenly just pretending like nothing had changed even though things like the faulty electricity was only the beginning of lingering tides.
Conversation spread with more smoke floating in the space between our bodies and the ceiling. I asked Jonas more questions than I thought possible; the prospect of college being one that was quickly extinguished right around the same time I was done filling out the bubbles on future career surveys. I hadn't written any essays or applied anywhere, already knowing in full what the paved path of all future next steps looked like.
I suppose the drugs helped me to further settle into such an idea even on that chilled night. I think it was easier to deal with the fact that eventually all of us would move on, even with the lights burned out. This way not one of us really had to look at anybody else, but instead just the outlines of their expressions. The contours of all our faces by candlelight appeared hauntingly optimistic, and I couldn't help but feel happy that I wasn't again stuck in my parents' house.
The next morning would be full of dim stories on the previous night, and all I could think about was the final cigarette smoked on Max's porch, before I passed out drunk on the couch and wondered why Jonas hadn't tried to look at me the same way that night. I would never find out, and he would remain my lost and fair weathered memory until the end re-justified the means.

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