It’s 2009, and to quote one of my favorite movies, I’m a “virgin who can’t drive.”
I walk everywhere. I have to. My parents work full time so if I want to do anything during the hours of 8am – 6pm I have to find my own way around. This includes walking uphill 2 miles from school with my textbooks only to get home a sweaty, hormonal mess.
Summers are the worst – it gets so hot in the suburbs. Me and my smart-ass friends lope around our town searching for fun things to do and places to go that have air conditioning and don’t care that we loiter or never buy anything. I marvel at the creativity of teenagers to find things that fill their time during the age when you’re seemingly too old for most summer activities and too young to leave the confines of your neighborhood.
My house is the starting point of the “long hang” because I live so close to premier destinations like the movie theater, Borders, Jamba Juice, two 7-11s, the park and two grocery stores. The world is our oyster.
My parents are rarely home during the day so we can scheme in peace. Down the street is my elementary school equipped with a huge black top and a jungle gym. During a blackout, we try to find refuge in the shade of the jungle gym since none of the usual spots had AC anyway. We trek around sweaty and self conscious, trying to distract ourselves from the heat by talking about our favorite bands and watching the guys skate down the mini hill on the playground. The afternoon heat is unbearable but the socialization is worth every drop of sweat.
When the power goes out we really have to use our imaginations. Even though my house is still cool, we can’t stand the thought of staying inside and not getting into trouble. At fifteen, it’s still awkward to have people of the opposite sex over to your house just to hang out. I only just started having real guy friends last year and we’re all still figuring it out. The only way to comfortably hang out is to subject ourselves to the dry heat of the suburb.
Mel, Liam, myself, and one or two of Liam’s friends make up our group every day. Me, Mel and Liam are kind of like a trio before Liam and I start dating. I realize that probably messed things up in her mind, but it’s always nice to have another girl around. It took the pressure off me to keep up with the boys.
We have our summer uniforms. The girls try to wear as little clothing as possible but still stay covered in fear of being called a slut – a difficult line to walk. Decked out in Hollister and Abercrombie layered tank tops and cut-offs, I always pray that no one notices mine are secondhand. The guys we hang around with are skater kids. In the style of the time, they all sport some kind of long sweeping hairdo across their foreheads. It gets greasy and stringy on hot days, but they never sacrifice their look for the weather – tight skinny jeans, usually matched with a band t-shirt (Green Day or A Day to Remember), vans and of course their boards. A lot of them straighten their hair, which is fun for Mel and me. Sometimes they let us do it for them. At the time I think they’re cool, but no one is cool when they’re 16 years old.
Liam and I recently got together after flirting for a year during drama class. He hit a growth spurt right before we met and he’s gangly, not really sure what to do with his body and his new found popularity now that he’s handsome. He doesn’t really skate though, mostly just longboards. The skater friends I’ll make in college would probably refer to him as a poseur. I think he is still trying to figure out where he fits in and later in the relationship he’ll take out his uncertainty and insecurities on me. But for now during the summer, he’s sweet and we’re inseparable.
When the sun starts to go down we go to City Hall with his friends and their girlfriends. They are all mostly my age but they all seem so much older than me. In my head I think it’s because they smoke pot and have sex but I don’t. Liam has been bugging me to smoke pot but I don’t really care to (later he starts bugging me to have sex as well). I got my period when I was 12, but those raging hormones of curiosity when it comes to sex still don’t hit for a few more years. It’s not that I’m uninterested – I like making out with Liam, I just don’t have too much interest beyond that. Or maybe I’m just afraid. It doesn’t matter either way – it’s way too hot to lose your virginity.
Adults, and some of my friends, warn not to go to the park after hours because that’s where kids deal drugs and smoke pot. I don’t care when I’m with Liam though – he’s 6’3” or something stupid tall like that.
One hot summer night, there must be truly nothing else to do because a huge crowd of kids form at City Hall. Not just the usual crew we muck around with. Liam’s sister is there – she’s a year younger than me and two years younger than Liam but she’s tall and curvy making her look older. She definitely looks older than me, I look like a kid. Probably why I’ve developed a sassy and “grown-up” sense of humor. I have the personality of fitting in when I don’t have the looks.
We glean from his sister there’s a fight about to happen at the park. Two brothers from our school are going to either beat each other up or beat someone else up. I don’t know them so I don’t really care. The group of teenagers on the lawn buzz with the excitement and the break from the hot mundane of August. I’m surprised the city security guards aren’t trying to break us up – they hate it when we loiter. A comment is thrown out that Liam’s sister has made out with both brothers, who is she going to root for? This makes Liam uncomfortable and he calls her a slut after she walks away. I don’t stand up for her, I don’t discover feminism until a year or two later but I’m not sure if I would anyway. Don’t want to look uncool and get involved with sibling relations. His sister being involved turns us off from watching the fight, we stay behind at City Hall while everyone walks to the park in classic teenage mob mentality.
Liam and I make out at City Hall. One of Liam’s other friends has stayed behind as well and he’s uncomfortable by our PDA. We don’t care though. He could’ve left. Eventually we walk to Liam’s house on the opposite side of the park. We catch snippets of the fight - someone’s eyebrow was busted open.
We end our hot summer day at Liam’s place. The boys play video games while I lounge in Liam’s bed trying to move as little as possible in unbearable heat. I’m not sure how I’m going to get home - I’ll probably walk.