It was Friday afternoon—when most people can’t get over what time it is—but the hot July sun peered over me like a concerned friend. My job that summer was working with kids, the kind that’ll call you dad soon as they tripped up on the playground. I tripped up, too, but that was eight months ago. Her name was Kasey rose—and though I’m usually the first one to scoff at cheesy romance intros—I couldn’t shake the thought of her. I was still in the Cities, but she was down in Iowa. My mind wanted the ground, but she was a million helium balloons carrying me to where she was.
Have you ever wanted, wanted someone or something so deeply it carries your thoughts away like a kite in a cloud-freckled sky?
Anyways, back to Friday afternoon. Camp finished up on Friday afternoon, so I finished scrubbing the last bathrooms and got ready for the weekend. I was gathering my stuff up with my best friend Tim, telling him—probably in the oogly-googly language that people speak when they’re first in love—that I missed kasey but she worked Saturday and Sunday so it didn’t make sense for me to come down the whole weekend.
You may not know Tim, but Tim and I are the king of “why not.” In our freshman year of college, we ran shirtless around campus as rain poured and lightning lit up the sky. A year later, we took a spontaneous camping trip up north, brought a hatchet, and had manly tree slashing. My body was dotted with poison ivy a few days later. It was awful. It was worth it.
So although what he said caught me off guard, in another way I saw it coming like a clown car trekking down a long gravel road.
“Dude, we could just road trip it down for the night.”
I couldn’t. For twenty minutes, then come back up? I shouldn’t. But somehow, I had to.
Have you ever wanted, wanted someone or something so deeply it only takes one half-baked idea to convince you to go after it?
We half asked, half told our friend Patrick he was coming with us. We barreled down Highway 35, gobbling Culver’s butter burgers and fries along the way. (I bought, of course—like you do when you’ve taken your friends on a road trip that wouldn’t end ‘til daylight next morning.) The sun set as we got past the cities. A small part of me wondered if he was no longer concerned for me, seeing as I was going where I knew I had to go. My mind was like that most of the ride down. My partners in crime would probably laugh at me if I told ‘em that now, but deep down I think they knew I was in Iowa long before we ever crossed the border.
Nobody knows who, but somebody said the whole thing wouldn’t be complete without a stereo. You don’t know Tim, Patrick, and I, but together we are kings of the “why not.” We were doing this after all, so why not roll into Wal-Mart a little after 1 a.m.? Walking out, we were one stereo richer and one heart beating faster.
Have you ever wanted, wanted someone or something so deeply that the question is rarely “Why?” and almost always “Why not?”
Only one long stretch of dirt road separated me from her. We stopped halfway, of course, to pull together a list of songs for us as we danced in the moonlight. That was the plan, at least, and there were only two problems. Their names were Ava and Veska, the two watchdogs. I was just beginning to walk up the hill to the house where Kasey’s family lived—surrounded by only trees and cornfields when I remembered their names. I looked back at my partners in crime, sitting faithfully in my beat-up Honda Civic.
This plan is stupid, I thought to myself, convinced I couldn’t do it. Their dogs will bark ‘til there’s no tomorrow, the lights will switch on, and kasey and her parents will stare at me, frozen with a $25 stereo in my hands. She probably thinks its dumb. I looked up at the naked sky, stars speckled so furiously it makes a city boy like me wonder if I’ve actually ever seen ‘em before.
I had to.
Have you ever wanted, wanted someone or something so deeply that risk is just the thing standing between you and them?
I planted my feet firm on their deck overlooking an expanse of cornfields. I had no plan to get her attention other knowing her window was ten feet directly above me. I set the stereo down on the deck, scanning for something I could toss at her window. I gathered a handful of pebbles, some tiny and some fat.
I tossed the tiny one. Nothing.
I tossed another tiny one. Rustling. I couldn’t see the window through the dark.
I tossed a fat one. More rustling.
I took one glance at Ava, staring me down to my left. I tossed the fattest one.
Suddenly I heard feet pattering against the floor, so I turned around to set up my makeshift waltzing music.
Soon as I turned around, I saw her silhouette through the screen door. There she was. Kasey doesn’t want me telling you, but she forgot the screen door and smashed into it.
But there she was. And it was worth it.
p.s. her dad came back from his 4-1 a.m. shift as a police officer fifteen minutes later
p.s.s. he knocked on the car door with his flashlight, with patrick & tim sitting ducks
photo credit: halliwellfamilylegacy.wordpress.com; the answer is no, I couldn't find anything better