Wednesday, May 07, 2008

the chamber

I started my senior year of high school in Olympia, Washington, a small college town not that far from Seattle. It was very quite and green. Large trees loomed everywhere. There were a lot of café’s and a lot of young people and they all looked like they smoked weed but they didn’t. Not all of them. I was living with my aunt, the second oldest under my mother. We didn’t get along very well, but that’s an entirely different story. I was sixteen years old when I got there, and I was sixteen years old when I left. This was all in 1992.

I was one of maybe five black students in my entire school. But it didn’t bother me. I was exotic. A new kid from the city and black to boot. I met a guy named Steven the first day I was there. He was new too. We hit it off pretty quickly.

Steven had a dirty blond mop of hair. His eyes were an icy blue and his skin always looked tan. He wore a dusty leather jacket and had a casual hunch to his shoulders. His parents were divorced but he didn’t make a big deal of it He lived with his dad, who owned a company installing glass windows in office buildings. He was always gone on business trips. I don’t think I ever met him.

Their house was one big bachelor pad. There was a fully stocked bar in the living room next to a huge television with a home theater sound system hooked to it. There was a refrigerator stocked with nothing but condiments and beer. They had sleek leather couches. Black. And where the dining room was supposed to be was a pool table with brown felt instead of green.

We spent every moment out of class talking about, or talking to, girls. Because Steven’s dad was always out of town, we were constantly inviting people back to his house. It was football season and usually, after the games (which took place every Friday), we would explain that there was going to be a small party at Steven’s place involving alcohol, billiards, and a big ass tv and stereo system. We were new and untried so it would take some charm and convincing, but by the second or third week in it had become a pretty standard routine.

Now, by the time I was sixteen I was casually smoking weed, drinking alcohol almost every weekend, and had grown a fond affection for LSD. Aside from Steven, who, despite his privileged and fairly structured upbringing, shared the same unlawful intentions I did, most people in Olympia, or at least in our high school, were pretty square. The day I started I wore a shirt that prominently displayed a pot leaf on it. The idea was that it would attract attention from the crowd I felt most comfortable in: Losers. Stoners. Druggies and Outcast. Not necessarily in that order. It worked to some degree. A few hippies nodded and gave me the thumbs up. A couple punks sneered and smiled. A few jocks tried to give me high five. But no one was truly who I was looking for. They dressed the part, but didn’t live the life style. None of the hippies even knew where to get weed (how is that even possible?), the punks just wanted to sneer and drink vodka, and the jocks just wanted to chug beer and chant orders to their bro’s (most likely for them to chug more beer).

The only person that didn’t balk when I asked where I could score weed or acid was Steven, who, when asked, let a smirk cross his face, grew a greedy look in his eye, and said, “Let me call some people.”

This is one of the many reasons we bonded.

The last night I stayed in Olympia was a Friday. As was the routine, we invited some girls back to Steven’s place for a party (of which the entire guest list consisted of Me, Steven, and these two girls) after the game. I had already decided I wasn’t going to be staying in Washington much longer, so was prepared to make a night of it. I went home and told my aunt I would be gone to Stevens for a few hours (Steven had come to my house once so that my aunt could meet him. She thought he was a decent enough kid but didn’t really trust him. He remarked at how luxurious our furniture was and I couldn’t tell if he was being genuine or nice. I guess I couldn’t have cared either way), and made my way back out the door.

The night was typical. Before the girls got there we played pool and drank beer. We tried smoking some pot out of a can. I almost shot myself with one of Steven’s dad’s guns (remember, even if you take the clip out, there is still one bullet in the chamber. so don’t go faking like you’re going to blow your head off with a 9 millimeter unless you know what you’re doing). Then they arrived and we drank more beer and tried smoking more pot out of a can. We broke off into pairs and separated to get more privacy. I made out with the girl I was with and tried fondling her flat chest. We spent a few hours on the couch grinding in our jeans and she let me finger her but wouldn’t go any further. When the phone rang and it was 10pm I knew and Steven knew that it would be my aunt. He came out of his room shirtless and picked up the phone and made some excuse about how I had been gone for hours. Then he hung up and shrugged his shoulders. I continued dry humping with the girl for a little while longer and then they left. Not long after that so did I.

The walk home was long and quiet. I wandered onto the manicured lawns and looked up into the heavy trees and listened to hear if anyone was watching. I stole glances at the houses. They were all unique. Some one story and some two. Some with serpentine walkways and some with lazy porches. No cars drove by. The only sound was jets overhead and the stutter of distant sprinklers.

I got back to my aunts at two in the morning. She was waiting up for me. We had a small, one sided argument and I fell asleep in my clothes. The next morning I packed my bag and told her I was leaving. I said good bye to my younger cousin, who I wish I had spent more time with. She drove me to the bus station and I got out wordlessly and she sped off. I bought a ticket going to San Francisco. I called Steven from the station and told him good-bye. He knew I would be leaving eventually, but didn’t think it would be so soon. Bravely, he expressed how he wished I wouldn’t leave, but understood why I was going. We talked about the night before and I thanked him for lying to my aunt when she called. He told me he still had some weed and could come to the station and smoke it with me but my bus was already there, there wasn’t enough time. I told him he should try to find a rave to go to, that they were big in San Francisco and that I planned on going to them a lot when I got back. He told me to be careful around guns. We then said farewell and that we would talk to each other soon. We did, once or twice, but we never kept up communication.

It’s a shame. Aside from the green trees, Steven is the only thing I miss about my time in Olympia. I wonder what he’s up to these days


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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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