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They call them “mood altering endorphins.” I say they’re the removal of that precious noose that once tied me to the world. It held me close to reality, saved me from my faulty choices, and gave me a home. Restricted from expression, the protector of my fastidious lifestyle would defend me from myself. If I slipped into authenticity, I would be placed back. My emotions stood guarded, blocking her from entering.
All it took was that one night. One thrilling experience that transformed my mindset, creating an existent member of society. I look back fondly on those episodes now, a midnight adventure that continues to replay in my mind.
I also remember the summer prior, reminding myself that I would not succumb to her attraction in the fall. Nevertheless, when the year began, I was hooked. It was as if my mind had experienced a perpetual downfall. “What is your greatest strength?” I could hear Mr. Krushner enunciate as the sweat from his crowded pores soaked the ground in exasperation. I held fast to my previous seven answers by echoing, “Mind . . . my mind is my greatest strength.” Apprehending the clichéd warning to be careful that it would not evolve into a similarly powerful weakness, I promised myself that my mind would never become a toy for anyone, even her.
If I was to attempt to explain my current state of living, I would be forcing you to leap a canyon filled with the chronicles of that Friday night. So, to aid in your comprehension, let me introduce myself--
My name is not Humpty, and unfortunately, it’s not pronounced with the “Umpty.” People who know me call me Taylor, and those who don’t, well they tend not to call me anything. If you’re questioning why my parents gave me a supposedly uni-sex name, half the time they say it derives from the fact that my brother’s name is Tyler, and the other times it claims a reference to some childhood friend of my dad’s that drowned when they were seven or eight.
Once, when I was ten and my brother was thirteen, I decided to challenge him once and for all for the ownership of the better name, Tyler. I’m not saying Tyler is the perfect name for me, but if you knew me, you would vote for the change. Anyway, the duel consisted of a best two-out-of-three-race down the heavily sloped street that is my Ventura. The race is a luge-based sport we call “Ground-Skate,” due to the use of a skateboard, and the fact that we lay on our backs, similar to that of a luger.
The race began promptly at noon on a warm sixty-five degree afternoon in the city of San Francisco. Yes, that’s right, I said warm. We hiked the towering masterpiece of our hill, and once atop the luge track, we quickly surveyed the barren neighborhood. No vehicles in sight. In three expedient counts, we began rapidly accelerating down the hill, exchanging the lead too many times to count. As the finish line, marked by a stop sign on the sidewalk, approached, I could feel myself edging out the victory. My brother, noticing my slight excitement and my soon to be regretted overconfidence, daringly pushed against the road, scraping his pale skin against the jagged asphalt. He cried out as he flew through the finish with a victory, a noise that I could not decipher as excruciating pain or a vicious battle cry. We slowed down, as I could begin to realize how much was at stake here.
If I escaped victoriously, I could decrease the number of times people would ask me, “Isn’t Taylor a girl’s name?” It was not even about eradicating the pestering, as even with the name Tyler, I would still receive a handful of questioning. At ten, it was really just for the chance to explain to people, “Hey, I know three times as many guys named Tyler, than girls,” as opposed to the current halt of my social skills.
After reaching the summit for the second round, I was focused like I had never before known I could be. I like to explain it to people as being similar to watching a sports movie where just before the final inning, minute, lap, or point, the leading actor looks down (or up), and takes in the surrounding air, while at the same time arranges his mind in the perfect order to ensure his victory. I felt it was my turn to redeem myself.
I dashed down the hill at immensely high speeds, the way a figure skater simply glides along the silky ice in utter beauty. I couldn’t feel the rough terrain under my board, but rather it was as smooth as, I would later find out, her skin the morning after. I refused to let up until my unprotected eyes saw the finish line behind me, securing my victory, and prolonging what I always thought was a life-defining moment.
The final test brought with it an eeriness unlike any moment previous in my life. As we made our hopefully last excursion to the peak of the street, we did not exchange words, signals, or glances. All was silent. Bursting noise came shattering from the one edifice on the street that held both of us its prisoners for now more than a decade. It was my mom, who, in a shrilling voice that harmonized with the altitude-affected bird cries, declared severe punishment for any child of hers that traveled down the scathing monster for a third run. My brother advised a switch from asphalt to cement as we both stepped increasingly distant to settle into our new starting positions on the sidewalk.
The sidewalk, while slightly reducing the overall grade of the run did in fact bring a surprising new twist, literally. We could see that as our vehicles would pick up speed, a gradual, yet overall harsh turn would be added to the path. Neither competitor knew the new travel that awaited him, nor did he have very long to devise a dramatic solution. We agreed that this would truly be a test of the most adaptable child; Darwin’s “fittest” creature would prevail and claim the Tyler name.
After another rapidly quick count-off was initiated, there was something amiss to my attitude. I had lost the drive I had previously so strongly acquired. Before I could fathom my intensity’s strange disappearance, I was faced with the current dilemma. As the turn had finally seemed to level out, I decided to risk an already botched race by sneaking a peak at the competition. One glance revealed the reality I had dreaded. My brother was a full board length ahead, and the next moment, his own eyes glanced back, found mine, and sent me a filthy smirk that I still cannot erase to this day. I began to manually brake by skidding my heavy Vans against the scaly cement.
The next image that entered my head returned as the first of many apparitions I would claim to have suffered. My brother, while I had been halting my acceleration, had remained at a steady speed to the finish line. Remember that finish line? Well here’s a riddle for you:

Stop Sign + 20mph skateboard + 13yr old boy = what?
If you guessed that my brother quickly ceased movement, while I glided past the finish and claimed the title, then you are woefully mistaken. My brother, full of momentary glee and excitement, could not see the danger that would challenge him at the bottom. Instead, he flew straight into the stop sign; feet spread, and broke his leg. His six months of physical restrictions allowed me to cope well with the idea that my name would remain Taylor. The psychological lesson I claim to have taken away from this day is not to try to change who you are, as a young Taylor recorded that evening, “I’m glad to be a questioned Taylor, than a disabled Tyler!”
Having accepted Taylor as my title, my life seemed to move progressively on from there. I assumed the role of a nerd, while dreaming of the real world. Like I said, I was protected from the world. I did not venture out, and no one came in.
What you care about, however, is whatever happened on that night from the hours of eleven till five that gave me a passion to pen out this story. Friday, May 18th is the one day that will forever be etched into the northwest corner of my brain.
With a week that had the same formulaic pattern I had been accustomed to, I had no cause to change my mind when I arose at 6:02 AM, as I had previously done for the past three months of my junior year. I had performed the task beginning on February 20th, in order to congratulate myself with an additional two minutes of rest on my birthday. I soon found out that I immensely enjoyed that extension, as some way that my mind could justify prolonging the late night abuse to the rest of my body.
Most juniors I know that attend my high school go to school in one of three different ways: they take the bus; drive themselves; or hitch a ride. Being my awkward and odd self, I utilize all three methods. On that day, just as I had made routine days before, I left my protective cottage in search of the 43 bus, which I take down at Forest Hill Station. After making the slow descent into base camp, I caught a shuttle that escorted me properly to the “Castle on a Hill,” the home of my best friend, Matthew.
Matt, making a constant transfer between the short and long forms of his name, stepped out of his front door, with hair that all but copied that of Fabrizio Moretti, the drummer from The Strokes, the band that we have so frequently idolized since 2002, when we first heard Is This It?. We had known each other beginning in 2000, when we were both in Mr. Phillips’ 1st grade class. Matt, as I tend to call him, despite his strong desire to see it changed every other day, depending on his “look” had transferred into 1st grade in November, and for reasons always wondered, we found ourselves laughing and running around together by January.
Our third grade year, when we separately began exposing ourselves to the chords of rock music and somehow found a then obscure alternative rock band, The Strokes, marked the leap from good school friends to best friends that could spend every minute together, whether to discuss the latest music, or discuss what evolved from “Cootie talks” to “Pretty talks” to “Sex talks.”
After eighth grade, our friendship seemed doomed, when Matt was accepted into Lowell, an academic savvy school, while I got into a Catholic school on the opposite side of town. We agreed in ninth grade that we would ride out the storm, make new friends, and, on the weekends, how Matt eloquently puts it, “Jam like hell.”
Junior year had marked a return to our relationship, when we both became qualified to drive the other around, even though we had done so for months before. Every morning, I would take the bus over to Matt’s, where he would then drive us, in his mom’s fiery red Prius, to Lowell, where he got out and I remained to take the wheel, and then drive myself to the parking lot of the cathedral, located just above the campus of my school.
Today was no exception to the standard, except well, the fact Matt was dressed as a member of our favorite band. “‘Matt’ is it today?” I aimed to keep a calm face, though I was desperately laughing inside. The fact that it was still 6:45 on what seemed like the hundredth straight foggy morning this spring aided in holding my question sincere. “It’s Matthew,” he replied. “Fab is a classy guy. Did you see that SNL performance with his hair slicked back? He was repin’ those Italians. Copying him, I am thus a classy dude. Let’s go with Matthew today.” His case seemed reasonable, so I let the idiocy slide.
After reaching one last blow by telling Matt that he was one tan away from a ‘guido,’ we found ourselves discussing our nocturnal plans. Most Friday nights, Matt and I found it most pleasing to watch movies and play covers of awkward 90s albums while chowing down on four or five slices of pizza from the Round Table down on West Portal. “This nights gonna be different, Taylor, I can feel it!” Matt was always turned up too far on the intensity dial. “Shut up, man. When was the last time we did anything different?” I had to respond in a sulky fashion. It was who I was, or rather, who I’ve become in the last seventeen years.
I probably had another depressing comment ready in the kitchen when Matt suddenly threw into the stereo a new CD he titled, “Shut Up Taylor Mix.” I gave him a fast jab to the right arm, but couldn’t help chuckle when the first track began with the melancholic drums of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight.” “See?” Matt shouted over the synthesizer, “It’s an omen, and a good one at that.” I laughed incredibly hard at the realization of how awesome Matt was. “S***’s not an omen when you make it happen on purpose,” I directed the cocky words directly toward him, while the defrost ironically cooled my tensions to a gentle simmer.
When we arrived at Lowell, Matt attempted one of those James Dean style moves of exiting the car slowly to bring some sort of sexual aroma to him. It failed as usual, and it made my morning a little more enjoyable. I quickly took the wheel and, making a u-turn, said good-bye to the early sunrise and headed straight into one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
The rest of my morning seemed all too sane and normal. My first two classes seemed to go by without much of a hassle, and to tell the truth, I might have been looking forward to the night ahead. Any pre-conceived notions I had about the on-coming night were littered and slain when Matt texted me in History. I did the normal quick scan of the first line of text to decipher if it was an emergency or just a prank from Matt. The text began with, “Awwwwwwww Yeeeeeeeeaaah!” Contrary to my good judgment, I abandoned my attention on the class, which bit me the following Tuesday, and read on. “Got the address of the party tonight: 836 Harmon! And I heard Cassandra and Brooke will def[:enitely] be there, and so will we!”
The message hit me with a gust of wind, and a crooked smile from East to West. I soon regretted the overexcitement when my crazy expression caught the eye of Herman, who, known for his own personal ridiculous expressions, began relentlessly distracting me with these odd facial constructions. As soon as I was let out of class, I went outside and, with my back up to the cold steel building, dialed Matt to hear what was going on.
Strangely articulate, Matt explained that he had simply been in the right place at the right time. Finding a useful fact in his words, I replied, “Mr. Nossae was talking about how Teddy Roosevelt was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.” Not enjoying my sidetracking one bit, Matt fired back, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Instead of talking about a cripple, let’s talk strategy for tonight.” For some reason, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people screw up historic facts. “That was FDR, dumb a*s.” Matt was through playing games though, and so I listened to our future plan.
“So, because our parents set curfews at like 11, we’re gonna have to do a little prison escaping tonight. I thought of something really brilliant in bio. Your dad gets home by 10 PM on Fridays, and my mom’s gonna be home all night. At 10:30, I’ll sneak out, and I’ll be at your house by 11, so we can head over from there. Brilliance man. It’s something you just gotta be born with.” I wouldn’t say Matt was the most zealous person I ever met, but I don’t think you would need any time to say he could sure play the part. I challenged the plan, not because I detested the action of breaking the rules, but because I could sense possible flaws. “How are you expecting us to get out of our houses? We’re both on second floors with our parents’ room right next door.” Matt took no time, as I learned he had the details in his pocket, waiting to impress me with his critical thinking during science. “Well, Taylor, for me at least, I can go to the bathroom, flush the toilet, which runs for an awkwardly long 95 seconds, and, by the time the noise ceases, I have just walked down the stairs, through the kitchen, and out to the backyard.” I was undoubtedly impressed. “Any great ideas for myself?” I questioned, what seemed to be the sensei of all actions, sneaking related. “I have one. The alley that runs along the side of your house, including your room, lowers the jumping height. You could easily jump that nine feet and I could hoist you up to get back in.”
My jaw had dropped with his first idea. The second severed it. “I guess you’re right. This could actually work tonight.” I was beginning to feel a great deal of optimism. For the rest of the day, I had been as joyous as the first time I saw her walk across the school’s courtyard. Which is why, when Matt texted me at 10:30 PM announcing he was on his way over after successfully sneaking out, along with the attached line, “You ready for Brooke tonight?” the noose was loosened, and my stomach shot back in pain.
Brooke Havilland, with killer red hair, eyes that are incapable of being fully understood yet bitterly elegant, and a body as delicate as gold yet as plentiful as silver, she was her. I had seen Brooke occasionally through my first two years of high school, and even shared a homeroom in ninth grade. Beyond that, she was a mystery. She was the end to an Arthur Doyle novel, and the beginning to my life free from restrictions. When my friends mentioned her in conversation, I would not comment, but the lack of movement in my mouth doubled that of my ears. I never thought a woman, let alone a sixteen year old girl, as she was back then, would claim my wits, my heart, and especially, my mind.
Similar to my own history, she was from a public school, and, to an opposite extreme, had countless friends at Lowell. Matt reported that she was brought up in conversation multiple times, and thus translated into the information he had acquired about tonight’s party. According to Matt’s anecdotes, she was a staple at these parties. She drank plenty, and had her men if and when she pleased. At our school, she was undoubtedly one of the most popular and attractive ladies to grace the campus.
When the year started, and I observed her attendance in four of my classes, I thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, for the sake of manhood everywhere, I was weak. I did not last the year. Truthfully, I did not make it out of the first week. She was just, plain and simple, that girl. There was no move I could make, or defense I could stand. I was addicted, but her love was not manufactured, packed, and sold, it was reserved for, as she pronounced it, “him.” I resented the idea that I could not be hers, but unlike most boys that lose their grip on reality in the presence of love, we shall pursue until the ring is slid onto the finger, while you watch from the twelfth pew.
Over the year, I had been repeatedly blessed with fortunate seating arrangements that allowed full conversation powers. I learned that she enjoyed her “Top 40,” but still had a powerful love of her dad’s 80s records. She explained her love of Molly Ringwald, which I soon researched and mastered, and, I learned, most importantly, beyond her appearance, there was an attractive force in the words she spoke and the sounds she sung. By May 18th, my noose had been shredded, but I had fallen. As the clock made its way to silently chiming eleven, I had suffered an ephiphanic ultimatum. I would either be caught by her love, or perish after an untouched fall.
For the entire half-hour after Matt had given me the heads up, I had slowly raised the blinds of my eastern window, and in an almost microscopical increase, lifted the window as far as it would move. I waited patiently, pondering about Brooke and what might lie ahead for Matt and me. At 11:01, I heard the punctual footsteps of my best friend slowly enter the alley, garnering noise as the footsteps approached. I spazzed when Matt entered my peripheral vision. My pulse began rapidly accelerating, but I became calm soon after. I gradually extended my lower limbs out the window, followed by my torso. I clung to the window sill, before I suddenly disembarked on my adventure. My hands, due to exhaustion or perspiration, let go and I landed softly on my feet. Little sound was made, except for that of Matt’s snickering, which soon went away.
We made our way down the street and, taking a left, crossed the street to where Matt’s car was located. Countless times before had I mocked Matt’s energy saving machine, but I learned to desperately appreciate the silent engine, as we slipped out of view from the house.
Being the nerd I was so accustomed to being labeled, I had, earlier that night, printed out directions to the alleged party. We drove out of the deserted neighborhood where I shared my domain, and traveled to a seemingly vibrant part of town. In less than fifteen minutes; traffic at 11 must not have been too bad; we arrived at the house on Harmon. Lights were brightly shining, although there looked to be an attempt to prevent viewing by hanging several drapes over the windows. We sat in the car, across the street, staring in to what we considered to be our first step into manhood. “We’re gonna fit in here easy man,” Matt whispered, although there was a lack of need to, he said it made him feel more secretive.
We decided the best approach would be to follow a group of kids so as to appear to belong at the party. While we waited, Matt began to enunciate, as he had many times before, about Cassandra, who he always described as “the love of my life who just doesn’t know it yet.” Cassandra, who I had encountered on occasional sightings at Lowell, was the one entity that Matt would talk about more than The Strokes. She was about 5’ 7’’, with long black hair, gorgeous eyes, and a petite figure that drove Matt insane on most nights. Like Brooke, Cassandra made constant ventures to these parties, and, sadly, seemed too far out of Matt’s reach. We appeared to be on a mission of folly, although neither of us would admit it.
As Matt shared his repeated thoughts of Cassandra, I spotted a group of students out of the side mirror. We took advantage of our new “friends.” We were lucky enough not to recognize them, or the other way around, as to possibly end our night early. We followed the group of five; split 60-40 with females leading, up the stairs to the lively house. A buzzed male, with a similar age, welcomed us in, or so I think that’s what he said.
The first step I took into the five-room house, about the size of my own, was breathtaking. I examined the entire room, with one 180° sweep, to find an atmosphere I had only seen in 90s movies, except this was real. In the living room was a large poker table, labeled “Property of the Hutchinson's” on the side. Several kids surrounded the table, engaging in King’s Cup, while awaiting players lined the room, observing, waiting for another victim. Matt and I walked to the kitchen, where we discussed the game plan. “Alright, Taylor, what we’re gonna do is just act chill, and socialize a little. If one of us spots our girl, permission is granted to attack. If we spot the opposite girl, we’ll signal each other for assistance. Got it?” I took no hesitation, replied with a “Sounds good, dude,” and made my way through the kitchen.
I passed a few girls in tight outfits, but reluctantly struck out in finding Brooke. I did, however, spot the drinks center, where after further inspection of human behavior, I selected a brewed beverage. Matt and I had agreed before leaving the car that there would be a one drink minimum, because business was far more important tonight. I decided to poison my stomach quickly at the start, with the hope that I could release my small bladder now, and risk it in a future situation. With my back to the wall, I listened intently to the words that these ladies spoke. Two of them were playfully mocking the third, who had chosen not to drink, and I enjoyed the playful aura they exerted onto the party. In a carefree environment, I felt at ease.
Any calmness I had in the kitchen was dissipated when I took a step toward the dining room table and found Brooke talking with another girl by a dark and foggy aquarium of ill-fated fish. For a moment, she glanced my way. I was hit with utter nervousness, but I managed to smile. I was feeling powerfully attractive until Mark, who Matt nicknames the “Man who never misses the Mark,” stepped in front of me, crossed the room, and compressed Brooke’s body into his own. Immediately a rush of devastation and disappointment clouded my confidence.
I figured the only way Brooke would notice me while conversing with the incredibly handsome Mark was if I stood out to the rest of the party. In the dining room, a group of students were playing Thumper. I stood by, as horrible as it sounds, praying that I could take someone’s spot. On the next round, a girl named Annabelle took what I imagine was her last drink. She quickly turned around, and all I could hear, after I turned around to be careful, is chunks of foods charging towards the floor in a single disgusting disgorge. After her friends had led her off to the bathroom, I quickly slid in to take my turn.
I felt like I was doing a masterfully good of being a hilarious addition to the table, as several members of the group acknowledged my presence as that of Matt’s acquaintance or “that fellow that drives by our school every morning,” as I so eloquently put it. The only aspect missing, when I looked toward Brooke, was that she was gone. After questioning her position, I learned she was one of the girls that had taken Lisa to get cleaned up. I got up from the table, and half-pretended to go to the bathroom. The line at the bathroom was long, so I thought I would have a good chance of catching Brooke somewhere in the mess. Just as it was my turn, I caught the departure of Brooke, but when I turned around, a small, but powerful junior barked, “What the hell are you doing? Go in, and take a damn wiz.” I could only comply with his orders. When I exited the restroom, I attempted to search for Brooke again.
My search was soon halted by a flash of red and blue lights from a police cruiser out on the street. Looking through the blinds, I could see two officers climbing the steps up to the doorway. I quickly ran a route of surveillance for Matt. He had somehow been able to converse with Cassandra, although it seemed too friendly for Matt’s liking. I swooped across, grabbed his arm, and shouted, “The cops are at the f****** door, man!” My voice had suddenly echoed throughout the hollow home, and panic soon erupted, as dishes and glasses began to shatter against the hardwood floor.
Matt and I soon found ourselves crawling around on the alcohol-soaked floor, while the police officers stepped into the increasingly deserted home. Crouched behind a couch, I whispered to Matt, “How drunk are you?” to which a reply of “.000” pleased my now shattered ear drums. “A plan?” I attempted to whisper even softer. “One,” Matt confirmed as he grabbed an empty bottle of beer situated against the wall. He hurled it toward the hallway, attempting to draw the officers away from the doorway. The bottle shattered, and the plan developed successfully. As the officers crept further into the house, we bolted for the door. The two men demanded our return in a low voice that carried immense weight. Neither of us slowed down as we sprinted for four or five streets until we took a break.
It was 12:30 as we creeped back toward Harmon, with our hoods falling over our heads. We reentered the Prius and slowly drove away. We had traveled no more than two blocks, when three kids from the party asked us for a ride. We were happy to oblige as we hoped to gain some sort of social rise tonight. As Matt drove in a non-specific direction, the girl in the backseat informed us that after a break-up, they usually congregate at the playground on 23rd St. near Dolores. As Matt adjusted his route, we looked at each other and smiled. We had both feared the night would have ended, but the chance to keep the sun down was more than satisfactory to Matt and me.
The carpool arrived at a brisk ten minutes before one. As soon became evident, the party crowd had not suffered many casualties at all, although we truly only cared for Brooke and Cassandra. Matt and I agreed on the same tactics, despite the difference in field. On my own, I felt awkwardly accepted. I sat down and conversed with some classmates I had remembered from before high school. I found myself sidetracked by nostalgic conversations about my yesterday, instead of searching for my tomorrow in Brooke.
I politely said good-bye to some of my old friends in search for Brooke. The vibe of the playground delightfully differed from that of the previous hour. A much calmer aura drifted through the air, along with smoke of various hallucinogens. Breathing in the air felt almost refreshing. These kids were drifting away from their troubles and finding a sense of harmony in the sand. It was essentially a playground, for adults. I questioned why I had not allowed myself to experience this essence of pure love with nature along with fellow man.
As I experienced a high of understanding, I noticed Brooke was sitting in the sand, toes dug in to the point of disappearance. I approached a goddess in her own right. “Hey, Brooke . . .” I stuttered and almost lost my voice all together. Luckily, she guided me to sit beside her. I stared at her for what seemed like ages, until she said, “How do you know this crowd, Taylor?” I answered, with a comedic edge that went unnoticed, “Oh, I’m best friends with Mark. I mean, Matt.” We talked for a while, and I attempted to evoke her own nostalgia to compete with my own. I loved the way she allowed my candidness to seep through. In what seemed like a two hour setting, we had discussed the world. At one moment, while we were discussing the current social life that we were experiencing, she explained to me, “Everyone is generally amicable and chill, because it’s just about the atmosphere.” I had fallen in love with those words she spoke. She was a brilliant mind, with a beautiful spirit.
I had caught a glimpse of her hand dug into the sand, rested next to mine. I reached for it as an enamored groom reaches for his bride’s hand on the day they are to wed. As I scooped her hand out from under, she stared at me with a smile that crushes the world. Just as her hand and mine had begun to grasp to form a single multi-cellular organism, a call ran out among the playground, and sirens began to shout from the entrance. A second appearance of the exact same officers made its way onto the playground. I asked Brooke in haste if she would like to run to the east exit with me, to which she declined, in order to make sure her friend, Marie, was safe. I claimed the same with Matt, who I noticed running toward the eastern exit anyway. We quickly hoped the fence, and with a pack of six other kids or so, escaped down the street.
Before too long, the whole group was made aware of a new party that was set to take place at Mark’s house, because his parents had left for the weekend, leaving his wide open house for the abusive use of teenagers. On the way to Mark’s palace in the Presidio, I was able to find a kid who knew Brooke’s number. I texted her, although not before constant deliberation over word usage. “To: Brooke / From: 415-386-2277 / Mssg: ‘Brooke, it’s Taylor, and I was wondering if you’re heading over to Mark’s for the party?’” Much to my skepticism, she replied back within ten minutes, “To: Taylor / From: Brooke / Mssg: ‘I will be there for sure, but when you get there, go upstairs, I wanna have so fun!’” I could not believe my two blue eyes. The girl of my dreams was asking me to make a move on her. I showed it to Matt as we walked up to Mark’s house from the car. Matt, after getting down on two knees and bowing profusely for three minutes, gave me his blessing.
I entered the house with the poise that is controlled by only a handful of men. My confidence was not tainted, but duly rewarded, or so I thought. As I began to climb the stairs, I saw half a dozen couples and one triple making out along the walls of the living and dining rooms, not to mention the action upstairs. In my most arrogant moment, I climbed the stairs until I reached the room, where a string tied a note reading, “For Taylor,” welcomed my entrance. After clearing my throat, and filling my lungs with cleansing air, I turned the knob, and took one step in.
“Hey Taylor,” a male voice mocked my name in a cocky tone. “I’m sorry Taylor. I don’t know whether to kick your a*s, or if that would count as hitting a woman?” The lights flickered on, as upwards of seven large seniors, probably from the sport of football, surrounded me, with my back against the door. I attempted to turn the knob, thus leaving my body open. One blow after another I absorbed with excruciating pain, as the laughter fell around me. My stomach, which had lifted all the barriers of my restrictive noose, was now being pummeled with no end visible. When I kicked back, I was kicked seven times harder; all over my body did injuries begin to arise. When they felt I had suffered enough torment for one setting, they threw me against the bed, splattering the blood from my wounds against the white walls of what seemed to be a young girl’s room. I was defeated, and all the fight and intensity that Brooke had created and established in me was gone.
I situated myself, shocked that my bruises were all the major damage. I had escaped with no broken bones or black eyes, just indescribable pain, and lots of it. I limped downstairs, where I hoped to find an exit, and return home, regretful of the experience. Matt, who has acquired a sense of knowing when something is terribly wrong with me, stopped me from leaving. “What the hell happened to you Taylor? Did she bite?” he mocked the scrapes and bruises that covered my corpse. With the little energy I could muster, I pushed him aside, and carried myself outside.
I felt like screaming as the cold morning air pierced my wounds, leaving my body in extreme anguish. Matt followed me out the door, leaped in front of me, and blurted, “Taylor, what happened?” I let my anger dissolve through my words, “What happened? What the f*** do you think happened? I got my ass kicked by a bunch of drunk seniors! It was a prank, man. She didn’t want me.” My voice began to fade as I attempted to escape. “Where do you think you’re going, man? I’m not gonna let this happen to you man. I can’t chase after Cassandra when you’re like this.” I was surprised by his confessions, enough to compromise with Matt. “Dude, don’t worry about me. I saw you and Cassandra, and you have such a great chance to get the girl you always wanted. I’d rather one of us be successful, than neither of us.” I meant it too. Matt proceeded to give me a painfully-warm embrace. “Go inside, Matt. If I find you in the morning without her, I’m gonna get those guys to kick your ass too!” Matt chuckled, and turned to head inside.
I took a seat on the large lawn, overlooking the street. I remembered what my dad always said he did as a kid. He would always tell, boring as they were back then, stories about long walks down the Missouri highway, and how the true panacea for the human world is the breeze of the wind in an open space. I decided to heed my father’s advice, by making my way to the near-by golf course. I remembered how Matt and I would come out here during the summers to golf with our dads. Due to the current shock of my injuries, I slowly hiked; any movement was a trek for me, to the green on the ninth hole. I slowly spread my body along the minimal grass that existed, all moisten. The wet dew gave a healing impression to my wounds.
Just as I had relaxed, I heard a rustled noise. A figure slowly approached. My weak bones could not run, and so I plead, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but I can’t move. I wish I could. I didn’t mean to trespass.” No voice responded, despite footsteps feeling heavier against the green. “Hey, Taylor,” a delicate voice chuckled a nostalgic laugh. It was Brooke. She laid down beside me, cringing at first, because of the dampness of the grass. She quickly noticed my gashes and bruises, and, with a sense of care in her voice, said, “What on earth did you do to yourself, Taylor?” Before I could answer, she spared me the humiliation. “Matt told me everything. I heard from Marie that the number you texted was a senior jock and he set the whole thing up, but Matt also said you had something you’ve been dying to tell me?” All I could do was smile. Did I have the best friend a guy could have, or was it just his way of cheering me up?
Slowly overcoming the pain, I rolled over onto my left side to face her. We laid under the stars, while I was forced with the task I had completed in numerous dreams for the past seven months. I somehow found the words I desired. “Brooke, I didn’t think I would meet someone like you. There’s a reason that you’re the only person in the world who can change the way I think. Some girls can change the way a guy dresses or the music he likes even, but you changed my whole mindset on life. For the last year, all I’ve wanted is to know what more you can do to me.” The next line came slowly, but powerfully as her eyes drew the heart out of me. “You are the only person I have ever met that allows me to experience the love I experience with you. Brooke, I . . . (chuckle) . . . I think I love you.” Her eyes remained locked on mine for as long as I can remember. I felt as if I could see so much more than just a beautiful girl through her chestnut eyes. And then in a moment, her eyes closed, and her lips, yes, those lips that I dreamed about night after night were crashing toward me. I accepted her in one breathless kiss.
After lying in the grass, I offered a drier alternative. With a new found sense of strength, we walked onto the patio of the clubhouse, and I opened a window for us to climb in. There, we were left alone in peace. A battered arm held her tight, as we drifted off with the night.
As the first light fought to escape the next morning, I walked Brooke back to her house, where the passion was sensed, touched not by alcohol or smoke, but by pure love. After departing from Brooke’s house, I called Matt, realizing that it was 5:25 AM, and my parents would soon awake. Matt gratefully agreed, joking that he would just as easily kick me out if I couldn’t produce a hell of a good story from last night. On the ride back to Forest Hill, I told him all about Brooke and the golf course, and I thanked him for being the most idiotic, yet awesome best friend a guy could hope for. He went on to discuss his night with Cassandra by playing his “Taylor” mix with “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service. We had both successfully been someone today. We talked about the next weekend, and even what we were doing on Saturday, which we were actually living. The fact that it wasn’t Friday didn’t matter to us. The feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed the car, as we pulled slowly down my street.
After Matt had hoisted me back into my room, and the window was shut, the blinds pulled, and all was safe, I laid back down in my bed, looked up at the ceiling and smiled. This night had changed me, and she had changed me. For the first time in my life, I was the proud owner of “mood altering endorphins.” I was in love.





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