So many things happened that summer night when I was 15 and I remember all of them. There was a large group of us hanging out, and we took a bunch of people home, then went back out again. I failed driver’s ed that summer (I hadn’t yet learned that there were times when it was imprudent to be a smart-mouthed know-it-all), so I was sitting shotgun in that boy’s car as we zipped down the interstate, listening to songs and talking. And it was just a little nothing in the middle of everything else, a moment when nothing happened at all, when the REM song “Nightswimming” came on and we were all quiet for a few minutes. And that was it. September is coming soon, and it was. A couple of us still had more high school to endure, one would join the military and another would head off to college. We’d never all be together like that again, and we knew, and we didn’t even know.
I stayed out past curfew. I somehow couldn’t explain to my mother the fact that this was one of those seemingly endless nights where so much and nothing happens all at the same time, one of those nights when you’re entirely aware that this is a night you’ll remember for the rest of your life, even if you’re not sure why. The only thing I could say was that I was having fun. And I was. It’s not like you stop to analyze the fun you’re having as you’re having it (even I don’t do that, and I stop and analyze almost everything). But it’s a rainy afternoon in April more than 15 years later, and this song popped up and I felt not exactly nostalgic, but more happy for my 15-year-old self sitting in that car, listening.
We didn’t go swimming that summer night when I was 15. We ate ice cream.
Night ice cream is always a good idea.