A Different Day
It was my eighteenth birthday and I told the girl whose house I’d been hanging around at twice-a-week after track practice and whom I couldn’t say I was dating because I would leave her house everyday asking myself, “Why haven’t you kissed her yet?” – I told this girl that for my birthday we would go on an actual, out-of-the-house date. She agreed. But before this date there was a special track meet being held in Connecticut instead of Rhode Island, and featuring runners from Massachusetts and New York. With me in the van driving to the meet was the great Billy McCoy, a runner from a rival Providence high school who had been the best sprinter in the state for the last three years. I cared more on that day about my date with the girl I wanted to kiss than I did about my race, and my performance reflected it. Billy did well, however, and in the Van ride home he talked about the fast track, and the strong wind, and also about being intimidated by a sprinter from NY who seemed like a man, not an 18 year-old boy.
It was nice, this different day. It was nice being in the van with the great Billy McCoy who felt more like a friend now than a competitor and headed home to a date with the girl I didn’t know how to kiss. As the van grew quiet I looked out the window at the passing world and entered a kind of dream watching a forest zip past. My dream mind began to compose a description of what I was seeing, and bit by bit this became the words, “We drove by thick forests, as dark as dawn at midday.”
This pleased me, and I found myself thinking again of this description as I dressed for my date. That description pleased me even though there was no way I could profit from it. It was not the words I loved, but where I had to go to find them. I ought to go there more often, I thought as I knocked on her door. It seemed to me that only good could come from a place that was both as quiet and creative as a kiss.
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