These are my most vibrant memories. It was the last concert at the pier for the summer season and I felt I owed it to myself as a three year resident to attend at least one show, at the very least, one song. As a salute to my untamed and incorrigible adolescence, I scavenged around my apartment, found an empty water bottle, and filled it with leftover rosé from the refrigerator. I figured that in order to make the heavy crowd tolerable and the decent at best music slightly more tolerable, it wasn’t the worst idea. I hopped on my squeaky beach cruiser, pedaled to the bike path and then took off. The evening’s breeze was carrying the ocean’s salty weight onto my skin and into my unbrushed, tousled hair. All the while there was an unusual taste of serenity in air, which is quite rare in this tourist infested beach town. The first act had already started by the time I found my friends through the crowd but judging by the quality, if you could call it that, of the sound bites I tuned into, it was safe to say I didn’t miss too much.
The lighting was fixed just right, brushing playfully over the crowd with an instrumental break carrying on in the background. I saw him a few blankets down, another human strictly in attendance because of a fuse of friend pressure and culture obligation. He was clutching a water bottle filled with an obvious, un-water-esque tinted fluid and not paying much attention to the main stage. He was uniquely handsome: tall but not towering, almond shaped, lake blue eyes, and when we found each other in the space between, he smiled at me. In retrospect, it was more like a dimple-heavy smirk, but it was coming straight for me. I felt like our lack of enthusiasm for the hyped up show for youths made us somewhat kindred spirits. I peered over to catch another glimpse, subtly and relaxed. He was sitting comfortably with his arms resting on his knees, his attention fully shifted in my direction. He flashed his comely smile while simultaneously, adorably, lifting his crinkled plastic bottle towards me as a distant cheers. I replied with the same gesture, never breaking eye contact. That kittenish exchange melded the ordinary and the uncanny. I’d like to think that I was playing it cool but the flash of heat that rushed over my cheeks coupled with a sudden rise in heartbeats-per-second offers reason to believe I should revisit my definition of “cool.”
By the time the last song ended, I was already an hour past my bedtime and hoarding whatever body heat I could from my best friend, Layna, sitting right next to me. As we packed up to go, I casually peered back over to my left, only to find an empty place in the sand, where moments before sat a potential future. I grabbed the empty water bottle, packed up my bag, and walked towards my bike. With my head lowered, watching meditatively each foot disappear into the soft sand and reappear with each step, my concentration was shifted, as I felt the bottle being yanked out of my grasp. I froze, jerked my head up and saw him standing there, wearing dimples.
“Cliff” he said, while nervously rearranging his grip on what was once my bottle.
“Well, Cliff,” I said very matter-of-fact. “I trust you’ll recycle that.”
He laughed, softly and sweetly.
“I promise, I take my recycling very seriously.”
Although I was kidding, I took comfort in his response and muttered “Okay then, I’m Piper”
“Piper, I promise it will end up in the right place.”
How perfect a familiar night can be when it’s touched by the unexpected.