It was a day that bounced around the calendar. All of us had been in rehab for various amounts of time. Me, maybe two weeks. Two weeks either in the apartment, the vans they drive us around in, the recovery center itself, or a sober meeting of some kind. I saw a palm here and there. A lot of parked cars. And this was really everywhere I went. No, there was that one time we went to the movie. No, we also hit up Dave and Busters when it was closed. They closed it for us. So. Much. Fun. It was just men, addicts. Young and old, acting as if they came into an endless supply of quarters. Even still, with all those flashing lights, the rooms were dark and windowless.
I was scared. Not at Dave and Buster’s, but the day. The day bouncing around the calendar. It’d been so long since I really ventured out into the world. These days were marred with forces too many of us face. I preferred the safety of my bedroom… or a studio. But the day. The day now had a date. And that date was in a couple days. Saturday. See, I still remember. I remember because Saturday is when the world comes tumbling out of their vehicles, setting up their coolers and rolling out their blankets. I know I have a towel. But I don’t think I have shorts. An avalanche of anxiety comes crashing into my chest.
I couldn’t punk out. The guys were so excited about this excursion. And I was doing all I could to fit in with people way more, let’s just say, adventurous than I am. Now look, I wanna believe that I was handed an extra pair of shorts, and that was the end of it. But I could swear I thought I’d just go in with my underwear on. I had underwear. I know this. However, the more I sit with these thoughts, I bet my friend Mike gave me a pair of his. We bonded over a particularly fancy soap I’d split with him when we got our money for groceries. It had to be Mike.
In the van, everyone was in a great mood. We listened to a lot of hip hop and I felt so old when they’d band together and recite the lyrics with the song. I also felt kinda lucky that it’s these guys who were turning me on to a genre I left behind when a couple famous rappers got shot. We pull up beside a high grassy area. Doors thrown open. Coolers pulled out. I’d say there were about 15 guys, in various states of dress, pushing through the brush, and marking out our territory. There was our driver/counselor and one the main dudes that run the place. And me. Terrified to ask for some lotion.
I wasn’t terrified because of anyone there, though I probably should’ve been, it’s just at that time I wanted to remain invisible at all costs. And asking meant engaging and that didn’t work for me. But I guarantee you, someone gladly gave me lotion. Someone who probably broke into someone’s house, tied up the occupants, put guns in their faces, just for some antiques and pocket change. However, under the incredible blue sky we lucked into that day, where even a felon looks like an angel in that light. And it must’ve been at the calling of someone in the water that I stop being weird hanging out alone on my towel and join everyone in the South Florida waters.
My memory improves greatly at this juncture. At that time, hell even now, I couldn’t tell you when the last time I was at the beach was. To me, I was on a different planet. It’s so bright in my memory. It was probably smack dab in the middle of the day. That day. Feet raking across the hot said. Then they hit water. The relief. I looked around and thank God there some train wreck bodies out there. I mean I was translucent. Interview With The Vampire veins. But as the water rose higher around me, as I walked closer to the guys playing and laughing, a change was taking place. A metamorphosis.
Now I can project this on to these gentlemen, the changing, and speak to the idea we all were experiencing the same thing. I really want to. And I’ll tell you why. There was this moment. More than a moment. Maybe a good five minutes. The entirety of us guys were as such that you could see everybody from where you were. And at first, we all looked up at the same time. Some closed their eyes. Others had on sunglasses. While a hold out or two was watching everyone to this thing. When we all turned back our attentions to each other, the water around us was sparkling everywhere you looked. You could almost discern small sparkly auras framing the faces of these angels.
Seconds later, the sparkle returned to the sea, the sun hid behind some clouds, and we were back to throwing around a frisbee. It wasn’t so much longer that it was time to pile into the van. There were some left over drinks and snacks so the ride back became a mobile picnic. Most of us looked a lot healthier with our sun burns. You normally wouldn’t do your naughty things out in the sun. The night had just as much to do with our thinking. Dark thinking. Thinking behind the clouds. But here were all 15 of us. Smiling, laughing. Relishing our time together. We know how easy life can slip away. But it’s a lot harder to do when you’re at the beach, in the water, surrounded by sparkles, with the best people life can cram you in a van with.