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Have you ever felt infinite? I don’t mean entertained, exhilarated, excited, or elated. I mean infinite: a sense of being ripped from reality and lost in a world of a single moment. A moment that lives forever yet dies as quickly as it is experienced. I have felt this only once in my epigrammatic existence.
Flashback to a time when you were naive – not to dangers or choices, but to truths. For me, that time was eighth grade – a time when I would decide what I wanted to be only to change my mind a week later. A time when I still believed in the love story of literature, film, and music. The story where a boy – even an eighth-grade boy – could see a crestfallen girl, swoop in, and sweep her off her feet. Happily Ever After, The End.
It was with that mindset that my moment of infinity occurred.
• • •
We chatter mindlessly as we mill around, waiting for the security guard to open the doors that would let us out to our 10 minutes of freedom before the last two hours of the school day. Once we fill the small hallway, the gatekeeper releases the vertical gray rubicons, letting us out into the illuminating light of a cold April afternoon.
My friends and I meander out onto the beaten path, following the gatekeeper turned shepherd, his bulk a nether-light, a guiding shadow against the harsh glare of the cold sun. His gruff voice reminds his sheep not to graze: “Stay off the grass! Don’t kill it!” None of us intelligent children dares incur his wrath; only the most reckless adolescents risk a step onto the forbidden foliage.
As we reach the field, cliques break off. The aspiring Messis and Ronaldos sprint off in pursuit of the coveted soccer ball, walking its methodical walk across the field on its spring wind–winged feet. The players compete over the non-acne ridden balls (the acne appearing with over inflation and repeated exasperation), exchanging slightly insulting banter. The girls begin their trek around the outside of our bowl-shaped field. I, along with my own clique, head to the side of the bowl, where the last stubborn pseudo-glaciers glimmer in the relentless sun, like soggy Cheerios that sink to the bottom, unwanted yet undeterred.
The second we stamp our arrival in the snow, we begin to pummel each other with the hilarious and immature running jokes understood only by a close-knit group of compatriots. As the publicly quiet but privately talkative hawk-nosed twins throw their logs onto the raging bonfire of teenage boy humor, a look over their shoulders reveals her. Brown hair, black jacket, pink face, stark against the tan bricks of the school.
Her shoulders are slumped and her head is bent forward – an unnatural posture for the normally vivacious and compassionate girl. I excused myself from the uncomprehending sexual innuendo and dialogue of my friends and jog across the crowded field toward her.
I call her name – “Aurora! Wait up!” Stopping her melancholy march, she turns. I see no tears; she’s much too strong for that. Instead I witness an expression of resignation to an inevitable truth.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“Oh, you know … it hasn’t been the greatest day.”
Acting on instinct, I link my arm in hers. “I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
I am swiftly overcome with a need to make this lovely girl feel like herself again. Leaning into me she responds, “No, I don’t really think so.”
The sentence hangs.
I can’t let myself do nothing. That’s not what the hero does, not what the damsel needs. So I grab her inexplicably delicate hands in mine.
And I spin.
She begins to spin with me and our eyes link. In an instant it’s just us. Her eyes are coffee colored, coffee comfortable, coffee warm, and coffee addictive. Lost in those eyes I feel it grasping at me; the infinity whispers, “Let go. Let me take you.”
I let it. I let it grip me and wrench me out of reality. Suddenly I become it. I become the infinity, and it’s indescribable. I’m instantly watching myself, and I’m watching her. I’m seeing the smiles on both our young faces. I’m watching the resignation leave her heart and the hope penetrate mine.
Then in a flash it’s over. We stumble into each other drunkenly. But we’ve not stolen our parents’ lite beer out of an unguarded fridge. That is not our drink. Our drink is infinity. And it’s richer in taste and in moments.
We journey back into reality together, arms still linked, smiles still beaming, hearts still synced. As she breaks off, she says, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I reply.
I return to my friends, deep in thought. Hung-over from my taste of infinity I sink back into the dirty mud of pubescent humor, not realizing then how much my life had changed. Aurora would hold my heart for the next two years. And we would never reach the sunset I envisioned us riding toward. My illusions shattered, I hang onto that infinity. That inexplicable sensation. That eternal second of endless possibility.