A Wallflower in the Mulch
I had spent the whole day filling out grad school applications, working on homework, editing articles for work, and studying for my upcoming exams in the library when Kristine called me to come over and hang out. I probably would have said no and finished up some other work, if it wasn’t for a changed relationship status on her Facebook. I knew that my friend would want to catch me up on everything, and I’m pretty sure she needed someone to talk to about the whole thing anyway.
I managed to make my way over to her house as the sun was setting to pick her up and head over to Pasadena. She wanted to see a movie, grab drinks in the downtown area, and have a little fun before we both had to get back to our regular busy lives. After forty-five minutes of driving we parked on some random street and walked to a nearby theater to see the movie, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on the amazing book of the same name. After nearly two hours of an amazing story, we walked out of the theater, gently dabbing our eyes with our sleeves, and we drifted on to the sidewalks of the city to find a place that served cheap drinks.
“Follow me,” Kristine said just before lighting up a cigarette. The small flame from the lighter illuminated her hand shielding the end of the ignition source from the cool night’s wind. I saw the light from the fire highlighting her face with such contrast of brightness and shadow as she took a drag and then let out a small cloud of smoke.
We passed all the tall buildings and outdoor spaces that were draped and defined with white lights and cheap patio furniture until both of our eyes found its way to a sign that advertised five dollar sangria.
“You want to eat here?” she said before puffing on her cigarette again.
“Sure.” I answered while feeling around for the last couple of dollars in my wallet. There goes part of my grocery money, I thought to myself.
We were seatted by the host of the restaurant out on the patio so Kristine could finish what was left of her Marlboro lite. We ended up ordering a tasty appetizer to go along with our sangria and began to chat about the film we just saw.
“You know,” Kristine said, “there are certain moments that happen in life and you just know it was a message sent to you. Then all of a sudden things seem so clear. What was that line he mentioned about picking the wrong people to love?”
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” I said after chewing the rest of the papas bravas in my mouth.
She looked out on to the street to where the cars sped going nowhere in a hurry. “So what was your favorite part?”
I answered, “the tunnel scene,” without hesitation. “It reminded me of the amazing high school experience that I had with my misfit friends. I had fun, and I had no idea that I wasn’t popular. It just didn’t matter.”
“Yeah, I think more movies should be like that one instead of all these trashy films just about partying, drugs and sex. We’re to busy telling kids that they have to be a doctor or a lawyer and that it’s not who you are as person that counts, but that it’s how much money you make from your living which makes the difference and that’s not okay.”
“Sort of like that whole work to live and not live to work mantra?”
“Yeah,” she said returning back to the pile of papas bravas.
Kristine had unknowingly brought up again what I had been searching for in the middle of nowhere. It was that feeling of connection and realization that life was supposed to be enjoyable even if you had your own set of troubles to deal with. It was that sense of actively participating in your own life and sometimes just going out there and finding out all about yourself and the world around you that reaffirmed that different perspective which so many have talked about with me before.
The movie, however, in one scene summed up all things relevant in my life and left me with an image that that would always remind me to just go out there and live life. I picture three kids speeding through a tunnel with the wind flowing underneath their arms that are hanging out of the car windows while waving up and down like a sailboat on the sea, knowing in that moment, that they feel infinite.
“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”