92nd Street

Lately, the motif of dealing with growing up and losing innocence has been all I can write about; all I can think about.

On the ride home from dinner CC inquires form the backseat, “You wanna smoke?”

I started smoking weed at the end of my senior year of high school, which was only two years ago. But lately I’ve fallen in love with it. I have had bad, paranoid highs, I went through my “munchie” stage, I have had my “Oh My God I’m so burnt moments”, and I am not in denial of what marijuana can do to someone’s brain. But most of the time that I’ve gotten high, I enter a realm of thought where things are new again. Sitting in someone’s backyard with people around my age bracket brings me back to younger days when hanging out with your best friends and some older guys was so cool and momentous. Smoking always expanded my mind, enabling me to touch upon ideas and theories that I never could attain while sober. But most of all, when I smoke, I can easily envision myself as a kid again. And that’s my favorite type of high.

The two girls I was with have known me my whole life- since we were five years old. But they were never the type to want to kick back and smoke a blunt with me; that was just never their style. Now, at 20 years old, way passed the age where most girlfriends rebel against the law and their parents to get high in their neighborhood on a late, summer night, my best friend raises the question of smoking together, for the first time ever.

We went back to my house and waited inside of my bedroom for her younger brother to call when he was outside with our goods. In the meantime, they asked to see pictures, knowing that I have a whole archive of my life in prints. As they sat on my twin-sized bed, Aly came across a picture of us at twelve years old, in the same bedroom, posing on my same, small bed we were now sitting on. We laughed at our outfits and our awkward, pre-teen faces. Alyson still had braces and blonde highlights, CC still had her natural hair color, and I was still my small, petite self with bad hair.

CC’s brother came around 11, and we decided to smoke in my backyard. Even though I knew my mother wouldn’t care, I still tried to sneak a lighter from the kitchen counter into my bag, while CC concealed the pre-rolled blunt in hers, adding some extra excitement and defiance to the scenario.

“You girls look like you’re up to something” is what my mother said with a smirk as we exited to the backyard. She knew what we were up to, and she let us live. She let us smoke some weed in her backyard; her daughter and two of her closest girlfriends from childhood, because she knew it was going to be all right. CC, my Wall-Street career woman who never makes a wrong move, propped herself on the edge of my deck with her feet in the water, ready to smoke, because she knew, at this moment, it would be all right. Alyson, who has always been a goodie-too-shoes, called her boyfriend to make sure he would drive her car home, and then she dipped her feet in as well, knowing it would be all right.

My digital camera was broken because I got it wet while I was drunk, for like, the 3rd time this year, but I happened to have a spare disposal from a few years ago, which I thought was pretty fitting.

We sat, alongside my pool- the same pool I went skinny dipping in with CC at six years old and got in trouble for- passing the blunt around and posing for snap shots.

One thing I have always been known for is my talent for making phenomenal mixed CDs- really, it’s a talent. I’m playing the latest one I created on our outside stereo when track sixteen is about to come on, and I tell them “You’re gonna love this one!”

It was Brittany Spears’ “Lucky”, a big hit from the summer we were entering high school. Once they recognized the tune, they yelled “OOOHH” in an excited pitch.

We simultaneously stood up, lined up in a row, and sang and choreographed our own individual dance moves to the song. It was now almost 12 at night, and I had the music blasting from my backyard to the point that my mother had to come out and tell us to lower it. But when she walked in on the three of us girls that she has watched grow up, she couldn’t be mad at the sight she saw. What she walked in on was three 20-year-olds, high, dancing freely to a Brittany Spears song, acting like the little girls she watched grow up.
Have you ever been in a moment, knowing it was a moment that you would remember forever? Like, some experiences seem to make a lot more sense in retrospect; others seem less severe or maybe more important than it felt when you were originally in it. There are very few instances that I’ve been in where I knew, as it was happening right in front of me, that I would cherish it forever. This was one of them.

After the dancing and singing subsided, I looked at CC and said, “You wanna go old school and sit on the roof?”

My father had built a small shed next to my pool years ago, and as kids we used to climb up on it, tan and talk, thinking we were cooler than cool. Boys from my neighborhood would come over and jump from the roof into the pool. Girls I grew up with would carve their initials on the tarred-tile roofing and then promised to never forget the nights we bonded on top of the shed. I even brought it into my high school years, when one night I suggested to my boyfriend to spend a summer night sitting on the roof with me. While I was cradled in his arms, we sat on top in silence, staring at the street I grew up on.

No one shared more memories of the shed’s roof with me than CC. When I brought it up, Alyson seemed hesitant. She was a virgin roof-sitter, and the idea seemed lame and probably even scary. But we hopped on anyway, and Alyson, as her usual self, followed.

It was a sight that I knew was a classic. If it were a movie or a photo shoot, it would be an award-winning scene. Decked out in designer clothing, hair and make up done to a subtle, yet distinguishing, perfection, were three beautiful young girls, resting their heads on the crisscrossed comfort of their arms, legs bended, bonding, fixated at the endless depth of the night sky.

It was a Saturday night, but no one was around. Few cars passed by and it was quiet. Just us girls, in our own moment.

It was I who started the questioning. I said, “Ok, now, I want you to be as honest and open as possible, okay? What are you feeling right now, at this moment?”

 “Relaxed; at peace.” CC was quick to answer, as usual.

 “Yea, I agree”

With CC to my right, I nudged her and we both laughed at Alyson’s typical not-so-original answer.

 “You can’t steal my answer!”

It could have so easily been an argument many years ago, verbatim. The fact that Alyson would “agree” and make CC’s uniqueness threatened is so cliché in the story of our lives. And the fact that I would be the instigator and nudge CC to retaliate is so typical of myself.

“Next question” – CC took center stage- “If you could be any part of nature, what would you be?”

“The sky”, I said with my eyes closed and a smile on my face; like a true stoner. “No wait, better yet, the breeze”. At that moment, I got chills.

“I would be the wave that crashes onto the sand.” She didn’t explain what that meant to her, but I respected it enough not to question.

“I would be land.” Once again, I nudged CC’s side and we both busted out laughing.

Yea Aly? What kind of “terrain” would you like be?” I was always good at fucking with her, and it made me love her more for it.

“Forget it! I’m not answering any more questions!” In her winy voice that we have grown to imitate perfectly, Alyson continued to bring the comic relief to any kind of serious situation. In the past, it used to hurt her that we always picked on her at times air-headed comments. But now, as we got older, I think it’s something we still do and she accepts because it’s some kind of comforting familiarity. We love her and we don’t try to make her feel bad, but making fun of Alyson is like a past time of ours. And she has learned how to play in order to stay in sync with our need to remain young.

“Your turn Aly”.

 “If you had to hook up with one guy….”

This time CC got to me first. The combination of our laughter was like a loud shriek that lasted a little too long.

We sat up at this point and stopped asking those kind of questions. Maybe because CC and I gave up hope for Alyson; it just wasn’t her game. So we just started to talk freely; whatever was on our mind.

CC suddenly took on a different tone, a more serious one. “Ever since I was little, I would question like, what was real life. Like, I would be like, ‘Who am I?!’ I dunno, like-”

“Like you would take yourself out of yourself, and just see yourself as a stranger, and be like ‘WHO THE FUCK AM I?!’, right?”

“Yea, yea exactly!”

 “Oh my God, I do that all the time.” I was overly excited to find I wasn’t alone in this phenomenon. “And I’d like, say my name over and over, and I’d think, who is this person ‘Karina-?’”

“Yea, yea!” She knew just what I was talking about, apparently.

 “Have you ever just sat in front of the mirror, and like, talked to yourself. Or sometimes, just pretend that you’re having a conversation with someone, like your ex or your boyfriend or something?”

“Oh my God, Karina, I always do that. Like I’ll play out what I would do in certain situations.”

“I thought I was so weird! Wow, I’m glad I’m not the only one.”

It turned into an unstructured dispensing outburst of questions and theories that have been festering inside of us for what could have been years.

“What do you think about God?”

“The Bible was created as a form of government….”

“Ever since I was little, I used to ask my mom…”

“I just don’t understand why….”

“I don’t believe in dinosaurs, I mean it makes no sense…”

“To think, like, this wholeeee world, there was once nothing on it…”

“And the fact that there’s a whole other galaxy beyond this one…”

It went on until 2 in the morning. Thoughts that none of us ever really shared with anyone else. Thoughts that have left us feeling different, confused, alone, or weird, were being openly discussed with no judgment. Maybe it was the weed or the feel in the air that made us just confess and converse about things that scare us about what it means to be alive.

Before Aly’s boyfriend came to pick them up, I had one more question I needed to ask to satisfy my curiosity.

“What was your favorite memory of us, back then, when we were kids?”

By my surprise, Alyson was the first to answer. “I think it would be days like the one of that picture of us in your room, watching movies.”

“Really?” I couldn’t have been more shocked. It felt like such an unwarranted praise. Years of hanging out and get-togethers at other friend’s much nicer homes with much more “normal” mothers; like Alyson’s, and she chose the memory of my home?

“Yea, I would have to agree”, chimed CC. I felt overwhelmed with acceptance. It is my home, and my company, that stand out.

After they left, I climbed into my bed and started to dose off while thinking of how great life can be. In that moment, I was at total peace with growing up, with the comforting idea in mind that we were growing up together.


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