Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Suburbs – Suburban Skies; Suburban Highs

The boys stood out the front of Kent’s house. They were clad in shorts and t-shirts and while Jeremy wore thongs the others were barefoot. Summer was finally coming. A soft night breeze came from the west, all the way from the mountains, it brought a slight chill but not enough to raise the skin. The streetlamps spotlighted the street in a scattered fashion while the crescent moon filled the gaps with a soft ambience.

“Man, I love summer! How good is this weather?” Kent said enthusiastically. Jeremy agreed verbally; Michael smiled his response and took a deep breath of the night air. The boys were feeling great that day and had every right to. Only three weeks ago they had finished high school and it was the anticipation of their lives stretching out in front of them that brought out the goose bumps.

After taking another deep breath of fresh air, Michael produced a little white stick from his pocket. It was more than just ‘no more school’ and ‘the oncoming summer’ that made this night special. He smoothed out the stick and passed it under his nose, closing his eyes to enhance his nasal appreciation. He felt a green wash engulf the darkness beneath his eyelids.

“Light it, already!” Jeremy urged.

“Patience,” he said, softly lowering his hands, palms down, in his best imitation of his old Karate sensei. He had the gesture perfected except that one hand had a joint poking up from between the index and middle finger and the other a lighter was bear-hugged ny his thumb. He raised both hands, gracefully landing in sparking stations.

The boys shared the illegal substance around, holding the gratuitous tokes in their lungs– weed wasn’t that easy to come by at the moment and this would have to help them see out the night. Kent’s street was a peaceful one. At 11pm there were rarely any cars or people about. He lay down in the middle of the road. Jeremy sat beside him with his eyes closed. Michael stayed standing doing some ad lib tai chi. They boys engaged with their senses.

“Man, it is so nice to move around, you know. Just to, like, feel your body at work.”

“Dude, I can hear everything! The crickets are like an orchestral melody with ten part harmonies. I can hear the lake rippling in the wind. Even the trucks out on the highway…it’s like a distant hum just, like underlining it all.”

Michael closed his eyes, nodding in appreciation but struggled to remain balanced on one leg like this. “It’s like a symphony, ey?” He said, before falling to back down to two feet. “A suburban symphony.”

Kent, however was too distracted to participate. He had been staring up into the starry, starry night. “Guys, you gotta get down here and look at this!” While they had talked and smoked the heavens had been slowly creeping up on them. When they arrived only a few stars were visible but in the nearly moonless sky the headline act was just turning up. Michael and Jeremy laid down either side of Kent. They were silent for what felt like ten minutes (it was probably only one).

Suddenly dual streaks burned through the sky just to their left. The silence held for a moment as they each took it in. “UFO,” Kent said matter of factly.

“Nah, shooting stars. Gotta make a wish,” Jeremy said.

“I wish it was a UFO.” They all laughed and settled back down, the high of sharing the sight of a double shooting star far outweighing that of the grass; and much more addictive. They sat studying the cosmos in silence.

Suddenly dual beams of light flooded their field of vision. Kent was first to react. He scrambled to his feet. “Car! Car! Car!” he said urgently. The other too reacted instinctually, scurrying off the road as quick as possible. When they reached the sidewalk they looked at the incoming vehicle. It was still a good 40 metres away and it had slowed to pull into a driveway. Kent cracked up laughing, “You shoulda seen your faces!” He said excitedly before rocking a little on his feet. “Woah! Headspin!”

“Yeah that’s what you get,” Jeremy said.

“Karma,” echoed Michael vacantly. He had recommenced his tai chi although it looked more like Karate now. “You know what? We need to move. Who wants to walk to the park?”

“Sounds good” the others concurred in chorus.


The boys didn’t talk too much as they walked down the street, their minds racing. The weed had turned out to be a particularly strong dose. They passed rows of houses. Each unique in its own way yet born of the same materials. They lined the roads and the roads cut through and divided them up. Each block clustered together. Huddled with each other sharing the outer spotlight and generating their own light inside. For every house and street there were a million more in countless suburbs that the boys would never walk past.

They had walked for about 10 minutes, through the windy suburban streets. Kent, walking slightly ahead of the other two stopped, “It’s so amazing to stare at these houses. We’re so accustomed to them because we see them everyday, you know? But what if we see them like they were, like…” he searched for a word, his hands rotating as if he hoped to speed up the cogs in his brain.

“Foreign,” Jeremy finished.

“Yeah! Like what if some alien came here and saw all this shit going on? It would be mind blowing.”

The house they looked at was not so different from any other house. It had a neat lawn with a few hedges, a two storey pale brick structure. A thin, driveway curved before widening to a two car garage. The ash gray tiles on its roof reflected the moonlight softly down onto the front lawn. Behind the house a large tree rose from the backyard. The crescent Moon was a bit off to the right and the whole scene was back dropped by a dazzling array of stars.

The immediate house gave a tangible perspective of the depth of the moon and the stars beyond it. As the boys focussed their eyes grew sharper and picked up the some stars that were deeper still. Tiny lights barely a few centimetres apart in reality were millions of light years from the boys and each other. And yet here they were clustered together like blocks of houses. The sky stretched upwards and outwards. For every speck of dust that reached the eye there was likely a million more too small or too far to be seen, tucked away in some distant galaxy.

“What percentage of the universe are we seeing right now?” Jeremy asked, “there is just so much out there…so much-”

“Space.” They all said in unison. The boys smiled in appreciation none wanting to ruin the moment with a jinxing. “You know guys I’ve been keeping a secret but I think it’s worth sharing now.” Kent’s tone was very serious.

“What’s up, man? Is Jeremy gay?”

“Did you sleep with Michael’s sister again?”

“Better. Better than both those things. Better than having a threesome with Jeremy and Michael’s sister.” Kent reached into his pocket and produced a clear bag with some off coloured shoots of some sort inside. No, not shoots, like a sprout or a dead plant or…“Mushrooms!” Kent said raising the baggy like he was Link just after finding the Master Sword.


“Wow man,” Michael said his shock delivering the words out in a calm tone, adding, “You look like the statue of liberty.”

Kent laughed, “I am brothers, and tonight we gonna get some serious liberation. Instead of staring at the stars we can go dance with them. Let’s ditch this sidewalk and hitch a ride on the galactic highway!”

“Think we be seeing some UFOs tonight?”

“Think we might be flying one.”

- Eden (inspired by Me, Luke n' Lee)

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