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How It Should Be

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I sit in the driver’s seat, with one hand resting limply on the steering wheel, the other hanging out the open window. There is nothing around for miles but empty highway, so vigilant driving isn’t something I am too concerned about at the moment. Realizing that I hate most of the songs the radio is playing, I shift my hands and reach down to plug in my iPod.

“Any preference in music?” I call to Aiden, who is slumped comfortably in the passenger seat. The wind through the open windows is pretty powerful, so I practically have to shout to make myself heard.

Aiden shakes his head. “Not really,” he calls back.

“All right... indistinguishable indie/punk mix it is, then!”

I scroll through the playlists until I find the one I want, select a Band of Horses song that I particularly enjoy, and turn it up a couple notches.

It’s about eight on a August night in The Middle of Nowhere, Idaho, so the weather is just about perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, just that ideal blend of warmth and wind. The sun is starting to go down, but it isn’t making much progress, and it gives the open fields a pleasantly odd golden glow. This is one of our favorite things to do - Aiden and I. We don’t know where we’re going, we just drive.

Aiden Caldwell and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember. Things had gotten a little weird around junior high when we started getting our first crushes and all that awkwardness, but we pulled through and made it out just as close as we had been before. Now, approaching our senior year in high school, we know each other better than we know ourselves. We have always had weird similarities, and half the time we might as well be the same person, but we more or less attribute that to the fact that we have grown up together. Aiden is the kind of guy any girl would die to have as a boyfriend, but not me. I adore him, and he is an absolutely incredible person, but for some reason the thought of us being a “unit” has always seemed uncomfortable to me. Aiden was interested for a few years, but only mildly so, and it eventually passed. He is the kind of guy who will show up at my house with my favorite movie and a gallon of ice cream when I’m having a bad day, or just announce that we are “going on an adventure” and then take me fishing or something. Sometimes we will go an entire day speaking with a British accent, or not speaking at all (made up sign language can go a long way), and sometimes we will choose to do a jig every time we see a certain person. These are our “things”. We just do stuff that didn’t make sense to anybody else, purely for the sake of confusing people.

We have always been this way.

But tonight, we have absolutely no destination in mind, no purpose for this outing. We’re just... gallivanting. Me, Aiden, my iPod, and the open road.

My relationship with Aiden is not the kind that always has to be filled with words. Sometimes, like this road trip, we can sit in silence without feeling the least bit uncomfortable. We can just be with each other, and make each other effortlessly happy.

So this is our night. Flying wordlessly over miles of vast nothing, singing along in our heads to songs we’ve only heard once or twice before.

After an hour or so, we drive past a “scenic overlook”. This is essentially a place to pull over to let the kids run around, or fill water bottles, or get snacks. There really isn’t any “scenery” to speak of - simply more miles of nothing, stretching out as far as the eye can see.

But tonight, I decide at the last minute that we’re going to stop. As a spontaneous tribute to whatever genius decided to put this lookout point here. I pull a sharp right turn and park abruptly, shaking Aiden out of the trance he has fallen into.

“What are we doing?” he asks, confused.

“Appreciating the natural beauty all around us,” I answer smoothly, my voice sounding like the narrator on a wildlife documentary.

Aiden shoots me a quizzical look.

“We’re outside of Kuna.” He says it like an accusation.

Nevertheless, he goes with it. After all these years, we’ve learned not to question each other.

The overlook is perched precariously on the edge of a steep cliff, which gives way to a relatively deep chasm filled with dust and tumbleweed. I grab a box of Fruit Gushers from the back seat, then step out of the car. Aiden follows me right up to the edge, where the stable, flat ground gives way to a very long fall. We sit down, letting our legs dangle over the Great Beyond. We enjoy putting ourselves in these kinds of dangerous situations, where we are inches from death at any given moment, but we stay where we are and just marvel at the odd state of limbo we’re in. It’s like mocking fate.

So we sit.

Aiden picks up a rock and tosses it casually down into the expanse, and we watch as it picks up speed in its race to the bottom.

When it finally reaches its final resting place, we can just barely see it shatter.

After a few minutes staring out into empty space, Aiden speaks up.

“Unless you’re planning on saying something insightful, there’s really no point in sitting here.” He isn’t saying it in a bitter way – merely as a statement.

I realize that I agree with him, and we stand and walk back to my car.

We drive. For a very long time. We burst out in song (“Piano Man”, Billy Joel) for no reason whatsoever, we roll down the windows and let the angry roar of the wind take over everything, we have a conversation about galaxies far, far away, and about the meaning of life.

We stop in three more “scenic overlooks”, and we salute the universe.

We collect tumbleweeds and the watch the sunset while pretending to be cowboys.

We make the most of life by being as thoroughly unproductive as possible, and we realize...

This is how it should be.

Join the Discussion

This article has 7 comments. Post your own!

SweetTart said...
Nov. 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm:
why is this so amazing?! Haha I'm quite jealous of this girl, and I want Aiden all for my own:) Wonderfully crafted:)
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writer24/7/365 said...
Feb. 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm:
BrielleM replied...
Jul. 12, 2010 at 7:09 am :
I love this! Well...Really I think I've fallen in love with your writing :) Good job!
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Ally101 said...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm:
This is a acutly a reeealy good story.
enigma99 replied...
Feb. 18, 2010 at 7:57 pm :
Hahaha I love how surprised that sounds ;)
Brooklyn_Juliet replied...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm :

Aw. Love. This is by far my favorite of yours. only because I am part of your character....hehe.

love, your bestest most awesomist friend.

and too prove it to you...

Whenever I see Ewan McGregor i want to *SNAP* haha.

love you!
keep writing, your fabulous!

enigma99 replied...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm :

awwww I'm so glad you commented!!! 

Thank you, love :)


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