The last summer of your life.
Arizona felt peace fall over the car as “West Coast” by coconut records started, lulling each person squished into the seats. Seconds before she and her friends, all pilled one on top of the other in the back, had been yelling to be heard, singing painfully off key to every song on the radio and bouncing with the uncontainable ecstasy of youth that is found pure and concentrated in every freshly graduated teen at the end of July.
The summer had felt like a double edged sword, cutting deeply if she dwelled on what its end would bring but not seeming to reach her soon enough. Before the golden rays of June had ever touched their skin Arizona and her misfit family had reminisced on their adventures, those that had ended badly, those that no one but themselves knew about and those that they had never gotten around to. Before teachers even brought up final projects or reminded them about what would be on exams they had planned. They planned lifetimes into the two month allotment, lifetimes they all knew they would never share, but they planned anyway.
“And I miss you, I'm goin’ back home to the west coast. I wish you woulda’ put yourself in my suitcase. I love you.” The smooth voice was the only sound as they all listened, knowing in a week’s time they would be in different parts of the state. In a month’s time they would have new friends. In a year they would be strangers with familiar faces and similar stories of days gone by. “So pack up the bags to beat back the clock.” Arizona was only present enough to note that the melody seemed eerily loud in the silent car; the rest of her mind was light years away defying both time and space.
She was a bright eyed freshmen, huddled with those who surrounded her now trying to keep feeling in her limbs as they talked over the sound ofRocky Horrorplayed out on the tiny TV and PlayStation2 one of them had dragged to the back yard. Loading with Halloween candy and pop of all kinds they defied the stars and stayed awake till the sun hung in the East. Boys and girls alike circling a fire swapping stories of the world.
Then she was a sophomore fighting to find her place in the world. They all fought, they fought the world and they fought each other. Yet each morning as if by magic Arizona would find them all sitting together waiting for first bell, looking with bleary eyes and with sleep still weighing on them heavily. Still no matter how hard they fought or how much they yelled on every last Tuesday of the month they could all be found sitting in their circle sharing cookies, cupcakes, brownies and any other food they could come up with. A ritual they had begun the year before. Endless time stretched in front of them and Arizona’s mind never once wondered to the forbidden thought of their separation.
By junior year Arizona knew each of her companion’s strengths and weaknesses as they knew hers. Together they made one smoothly functioning unit, others joined, some left but with each adjustment the group was stronger, louder, and more at home within themselves. Arizona sat in the middle of the truck with her two best friends, parked in front of BI-LO. They stayed till three in the morning browsing the great mysteries of life, breaking their parent trust like so many time before.
Now their last year had passed them by in a blur of excitement, tears and longing. In the last despite attempts to hold on tight to what was already slipping away at lightning speed they piled into one car so the last hours they had could be filled with the adventures they would no longer have. In that moment they were infinite.