There was a summer, way back in the what seems like yesterday where all that brought me joy was a rag tag group of boys that held me close to their hearts. It was a summer of walking because only one of us had a car and the rest had no responsibilities. A summer of needing fresh Los Angeles, smog-filled air instead of being trapped in cramped rooms where our souls went to die. It was a summer of being young and stupid and full of life. There’s nothing like the feeling of remembering those summers.
We used to smoke clove cigarettes because they tasted like candy. Then we would smoke hookah because it really was candy to our young, naive selves. In garages and walking through our suburban downtown, that summer probably took five years off of our lives with all the tobacco we pressed into our lungs. But even now, the smell of it takes me back to that feeling of safety and happiness that only comes from being with people you know are yours.
Looking back, it may have been two summers with a few seasons in between, may have been years and years that I’m pushing into three months of memory and space, but the sentiment is the same. It all feels like summer to me.
There’s a hole in one of my journals from the cigarette my partner of the day and I smoked. I didn’t want to burn the grass and it still smells like the clove that didn’t make it into our lungs, still smells like home. That boy and I aren’t friends anymore in the present, but I’ll always love him in the past and in the space right before the exact moment I find myself in. And that’s life I guess.
You move on from friends and the older you get, the more you change and the more you drift apart. Not always, but sometimes. All of eternity can’t be sitting in your friend’s backyard around a fire pit while finally graduating to big kid cigars and listening to the music float from your best friend’s guitar, but that memory can exist in your head much longer than the point where eternity ends.
That was the “summer” I learned to almost love again, surrounded by boys that wanted nothing from me but my time and my almost egregious personality. Even now, we meet up every once in a while and surround ourselves with smoke that stays in your hair even after you shower with the added benefit of beer that we used to be to young to have. We always hovered over vices together, never letting each other sink too deep. None of us have ever stayed down, fingers crossed.
It feels like forever ago, those Sundays when my boys bought me food so I wouldn’t go hungry and bought me a little hookah for my 18th birthday that someone or all of us broke soon after. Feels like another life where I sat in a garage on the bad side of town, letting some guy who was high as a kite tattoo a cross on the skin of my shoulder because I was leaving for college and this was how I would remember this time. We all have crosses on our skin and I like to believe it connects us to a time where we lived in rebellion, but talked about God.
Since then, I’ve never enjoyed “summer” the same way. In my heart, I know I never will. And that’s alright because maybe they own my feeling of “summer.” Maybe that part of my heart and my soul will always be theirs. Of all the people in all my life, they’ve definitely earned it.