On These Bitter Days

It was cold today in Indiana.  It was damn cold.  It was bitterly damn cold.  It was fucking bitterly damn cold. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get to why I mentioned that.  When it’s as cold as it was today (-16 Degrees F at some points), sometimes I take to thinking about better times in the warmer weather, and lately the only one’s I’ve thought about quite a bit are those summer moments around a bonfire with some of my closest friends.  It feels like it was just yesterday, but I know that’s not true, and I know that these are all bleeding together into one multi-day long night  that just never seemed to stop because we didn’t want it to.

We’d always be out at Dustin’s parents to have a birthday party for him either right around his birthday (if it was on a weekend) or closer to the end of school.  We would hang out inside for a while while it was still light outside, sometimes pulling out the Playstation, or the Xbox, sometimes just hanging out and talking.  Yeah, teenage guys hangning out and talking, it happened.  It’d always be fun, there’d always be cake and/or pizza, and we always had a great time.  A couple of times though, there was a much enjoyed variation to that.

For a couple years, we had a massive game of Risk going.  Every color was being used, and we were all keeping each other at a stalemate.  I think  we started somewhere around two in the afternoon and were still going somewhere around four or five.  It was completely and absolutely epic, and we all joked with each other, poked fun, taunted and played mind games the entire time.  I don’t remember who won those matches (I know it wasn’t me), but they were just outstanding fun.  But the best parts of all those birthdays were the late nights.

When dusk started, we’d all head out to the back yard, and we’d gather around the fire pit.  We’d throw as many dry branches and logs as we possibly could in there, douse it in lighter fluid, and then light it up.  Those right there were the best times I’ve ever had.  We’d be up all night, sometimes talking about anything we could think of, coming up with stupid jokes; and then sometimes, just looking into the fire, looking up into the stars and just sitting there around the fire, we’d just enjoy the time out there.

We weren’t out in the wild wilderness.  We weren’t in the middle of nowhere.  We weren’t fighting the elements.  But I swear those nights were the closest I’ve ever felt to other people in my life.  I’m still close friends with most of them to this day, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We’re starting to spread out cross country now, so I don’t really get to see them all that much any more.  It really is kinda saddening for me, but it’s just the way it is when we grow up.  At least I still have those times around the bonfire, watching it keep going until we finally let it smolder out when the twilight comes in the morning.

Dustin, if you get the chance to read this beforehand, good luck on your test.  I’d trust you with that job any day of the week.

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