Sixteen & Forties

“Looking for parking fucking sucks.”

A string of back lights with barely any space in between one car from another, that is all that I am getting from these Astoria streets on a Saturday night.

As I skim open space from open space to only find a fire hydrant or driveway, I spot a narrow alleyway that catches my attention. The odds of this particular alleyway being the same one that I am reminded of is rare, but nonetheless, I am brought back to a time in my past life; the life that has past me.

I quickly undergo a process of clarity- a realization. A sentiment of learning that I have might never have been hit with if not for this exact moment. It’s rewarding and at the same time, it takes away so much from me.


On a September night, when I was sixteen, there was an alleyway in Astoria that I became briefly acquainted with. It was four of us girls, still fresh in our junior year of high school, withholding two opaque plastic bags that concealed three forties of Old E. I would learn later in life that this was a complete cliché.

Forties were made for nights like these, for teenagers like us; “rebels”, lying to our parents, getting drunk for no good reason but for the mere fact that if we can get away with it, we should.

We sat in a circle, on the concrete ground, sipping our beer, talking about God knows what, but it sure as hell wasn’t anything meaningful. I mean, how could it have been? What did we even know back then? Obviously, not much; obvious through our choice of setting, of beverage, and of safety precautions.

Now, years later, as I am searching for a spot in order to meet some friends for drinks (which I can legally buy now), I see this particular alleyway and I am reminded of that late summer night back in September of 2002. When I was sixteen, when I thought it was cool and exhilarating to buy forties of Old E and drink in the dark with four other girls just as green and foolish as I.

I realize how those days are long gone; the days when everything was happening for the very first time. How so much experience laid before me, so much thrill behind buying a beer & having to hide somewhere with my girlfriends to get buzzed.

Life, it just flies by us- fast- even when you’re not having fun. Friends of your teenage years turn into solidified statues of your past that represent some battles you have either lost, or overcame. Nights out become the events that make you the ashamed, confused, and jaded adult that continues to drink in order to forget, or in some cases, to feel. Freedom and carelessness transforms into resumes and internships.

It’s some kind of innocence meshed with ignorance that I miss most from those days. I knew little about much. And I cared much less about most things. Consequences were not part of my consciousness; it was all about getting away with as much as we can. And we got away with quite a lot.

This whole growing up thing, it breaks my heart while simultaneously keeps me wanting more. Those days were so much better, but maybe it only seems that way in retrospect. Maybe how tonight will too, one day.

KV ©


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