August twenty-seventh, two thousand and three:
Looking back, it was Tami who started it. One look at the convertible, one impetuous desire, and we were all off on a madcap adventure.
In what one might have thought was an uncharacteristic gesture on his part, my husband put the top down on the Mercedes and let three grown women ride like parade princesses on the back of his beautiful car. I sat in the passenger seat and watched my dearest girlfriends howl down the summer streets, their hair flying in the wind, their faces glowing from secret, inner places. It was the kind of delight you might see on the face of a child riding a roller coaster: absolutely consumed with that moment, that naughtiness, that unsurpassable feeling of being totally, totally free. If only for the moment.
From there we went to The New House. But not before we stocked up on – God only knows we needed it – more wine. Plus beer, flashlights and a small stash of marijuana that my husband confiscated from his son’s dresser drawer four years ago. That somebody didn’t fall and break a neck before the night was over, was astonishing.
A house is just a skeleton when it’s under construction: Walls you can walk through, nails strewn everywhere, cords running across the steps like snakes waiting to snatch a tipsy reveler in the night, a sheer 20-foot drop from the second-floor French doors to the bare, hard ground below, and plumbing, pipes and wads of tape tossed like hurricane remnants across the unfinished floor. It is a bare shell, filled only with slow progress and a bundle of hopes and dreams. It is a house, we would come to learn, that would only ever be a shell if it wasn’t christened with the good will of friends.
A true christening takes peeing. And singing. And the telling of stories. This, too, we learned. We realized it in the dark hours of the night, long past the time we should have been in bed. Longer still past the time we should have stopped drinking. We realized that the place we would call home was inside that circle of friends. It always would be––regardless of the address or the paint on the walls.
We will plant a tree one day in the front yard. We’ll call it the Pee Tree. We’ll nurture it and fuss over it, more than all the rest of the shrubbery and flowers combined. We’ll watch it grow and measure it against the deepening love of our friends. We’ll worry when the frost comes early and we’ll dance in our hearts around the first leaves of spring.
The night waning, we drove home––now all four women riding like queens on the back of the Mercedes convertible, our heroes and our champions carrying us home in a windy chariot. I can see us still in the happiest corners of my mind: This Tami, this Ande, this Sandra, and me. We sang, we hollered, we threw up our hands to the Gods that love us, and we pretended we were flying. Then we held onto each other for dear life.
We were sirens in the night, calling to task all things ordinary and sober. We shouted people from their rest, tempting them to end the sleep that comforted them; to join the song of the sirens and be remade. This was our gift to the night and to each other: to be redeemed by the splendor of friendship. To race together into the night – unruly and unburdened – under a host of applauding stars.
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