So let’s just say we had a Friday night … a Saturday morning … a Friturday? What follows is a disjointed, first-hand account of a disjointed, but absolutely perfect, night out with five people who happen to be the writerly types.
I woke up from my nap, bleary-eyed and with my phone buzzing. It was five minutes after nine.
“They’re at a movie,” I thought. “I can take a short nap,” I thought. Three hours in bed is not a nap. It is dangerously close to sleeping.
I jolted out of my futon, confused and scrambling. With my phone pressed to my ear, I assured Michael that I was on my way out. I could hear him in stereo, both through the tinny speaker and, muffled, through my front door. After hanging up, I realized that my body, on autopilot, had taken me to one of the tall, undrawn windows at the front of my house, still wearing only a T-shirt and compression shorts.
I’m pretty sure they could see me. Those creepers.
I rushed back to my bathroom, washed my face, wet my hair and looked into the mirror.
Shit. What do I wear?
Michael, Justine and I went to see “The Lorax.” We arrived late. The movie popcorn we shared was the first food I’d had all day. I remember Danny DeVito as the Lorax, pinching his ass to fly away in a beam of light … I just don’t know.
After we met up with the other two, Michael drove us to the Balboa Peninsula, and we — very wisely — decided to get some food before hitting the bars. Laventina’s, the first and only choice. We somehow had some leftover pizza slices and waffled around in an existential pizza peril. Michael decided to keep the leftovers in his trunk for later.
“But won’t that make your car smell like pizza?”
“Nah, man. Fuck it, bay life,” he said. “Besides … pizza.”
It turned out to be the best idea ever. We went in to the Beach Ball and started to drink. In my sleep-deprived state, I just lost track of things after the Jaeger Bombs, tequila shot and Jack Daniels. The next thing I remember, I was standing with everyone by the ocean with my pant legs rolled up. The water was piercingly cold and we were shouting, “WE ARE SO INFINITE!” out at the endless blackness of the nighttime ocean. We climbed up into a lifeguard tower and were infinite, or something like that.
The warm glow of the living room lamp slowly lit up my apartment. We all gathered around the coffee table. Although most of the group has been inside my apartment a few times, they were still guests, and I wanted to be a good welcoming hostess. Even in my drunk-ass state of mind, I just knew it was the right thing to do. I zoomed around the kitchen and the living room searching for the biggest cup I could find, as I heard behind me the sound of beer cans being popped open. Then a deck of cards magically appeared. It was time for King’s Cup.
As the game went on, rules were applied. The only ones I can barely remember are speaking in a foreign accent, not laughing, picking up and putting back the “little man” sitting on top of your beer after every sip, and complimenting the person to your left.
I’m not too surprised that I sucked at following these rules the whole time. Seriously though, where the hell did all those rules come from and why were there so many? I kept laughing, the “little man” didn’t always exist on my beer can, and I supposedly told Charles the same compliments over and over. To make things better, I was the one who drew out the last King.
Let’s just say that once I finished drinking, my lips were numb, everything around me was a-spinning, and cuddling on the couch or wherever in my apartment sounded like the most ingenious idea. Then somehow, we all ended up in Aldrich Park.
The five of us sat on rocks in Aldrich, so lost and silly in the embrace of infinity. A broken table lie in front of us, anonymous and upside down. Where had this table come from? Whose had it been? How had it broke? We had no guesses. Charles took out my pen and signed the table and I followed him.
“This is where we are from. We are from here,” he said.
“We are,” I replied, not to him but to the stretching park in front of us, lanterns freckling darkened trees.
Reeling in our felt connection with the world –– each of us, sitting under the same sky that reigned over the beach in Newport, the same stars that lit similar clearings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. We felt somehow both victorious and conquered, making our presence known to the proverbial embodiment of our great campus. This night could not have existed with any other configuration of people, in any other place.
Maybe because we had been drinking, sleep-deprived, stressed out to the point of screaming, but our haphazard discovery of action took us beyond UC Irvine in that park, a space that ceased to be our school and became a symbol of our relationship with the world around us.
We would not be the table. We would not be broken by this place.
And just as we thought ourselves champions of that dark vastness, we were torn from our assumptions by black water puddled between two tree roots. I watched as Greg, darting across tree roots, slipped. His foot disappeared into the puddle and emerged, shoe and pant leg covered in rotting water: an insistence that we would not master this place.
He smelled like shit, so we left.
As we walked back to Justine’s apartment, the sky was turning from black to early morning cobalt. All we wanted, even more than bed, was Pancakes-R-Us. We drove in a haze, the three in the backseat knocked out while Michael and I stared silently at the road.
Michael turned onto the 55 North and said, “Greg, is this the right way?”
“As long as you keep going south, man,” Greg said.
“So, no you aren’t,” I translated, Greg already asleep again.
Once we slid into our booth in the nearly empty pancake house, Justine, Michael and I immediately ordered coffee. The bright sunlight and seeing other living humans other than my four fellow travelers was confusing, but the hot cup of coffee my hands were curled around made perfect sense. After I finished the first cup of coffee, Greg was disproportionally upset and refilled my mug.
We puzzled over the menu and tried to piece things together. We laughed our way through breakfast, not worrying too much about the early morning crowd that had slowly filtered in. It’s not that we didn’t know what happened so much as it was that we didn’t know how or why.
As we rubbed elbows and tried to figure out utensils with each other, we came to the conclusion that we had spent the night exactly right with exactly the right people.