Start Here.

Upon forgiving previous lashings from a most brutal feud between Mandy (a.k.a Manderz Porno) and I, we harmlessly decided to head into Flint for dinner at the mall. Granted, there are spots where the same food can be found at home for cheaper but the lure of Franchise City is to young people as a slot machine is to a desperate woman. That, and the escalators are fun.

In the event of Amanda’s 18th birthday, did I want to drive out and meet the other people most significant to her?

“Justin this and Justin that,” she insisted on the way over from her artistic perspective. I like to say “artistic” because I never take anything she says about her “friends” realistically. Most of the time her relationships are built on shaky manifestations destined for catastrophe.

Mandy isn’t Mandy without the game that is the world. You can’t contain her or else she doesn’t mature. She has to go somewhere. She has to know Everyone. It takes me a week to recall a single new name without hesitation.

Soon enough we’re on the expressway. This in itself is an amazing concept to Autumn May. Consider the interval from Here to There- the time to think in between where you’ve been and where you’ll be, whether that be literally or philosophically, as cars to the left and right of you whiz in and out, refusing to use turn signals. It’s amazing, really. When I’m driving to the corner store to get milk, I don’t think about it. But when I’m flying past vehicles, burying the speedometer on a half-hour cruise, I’ve got time to actually feel it. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t phased when Mandy had us lost in the ghetto. I don’t know.

“Go up there and turn around. What’s the name of this street? No sign. (she has to talk to herself because I am of no use in the ways of direction.) Go up here and follow this and see if it takes us to that one thing…. Damn. Are you sure you don’t wanna start smokin‘? (handing me a cigarette) Let me ask these guys where Starlight Park is.”

She is referring to a colored couple in soiled, holey clothes and $300 tennis shoes. I just bite my tongue because I’m 20 years old and depressed in America. I don’t even care anymore. The sun is gorgeous, bouncing off of the run-down factories, the run-down houses. So who gives a shit.

At this point Mandi is quick to use the cell and contact one of her friends. She tells me to pull into a parking lot and wait for Some Alleged Bryce. Sure enough, a white BMW recklessly tears through the driveway in a matter of seconds and pulls up next to us. I am instantly intimidated once I realize that all of the control is with the kid resting his foot on the brake, driver-side window down. I’m vulnerable to his ability to hide behind thick, black shades. I hate the element of exposure when I am unable to see back. He paused there a moment, just grinning.

And that was when I woke up – woke up from my slumber of year upon year. I wasn’t a retired princess wallowing in her fallen tower…I wasn’t in a university sweatshirt planning for tomorrow or walking aimlessly around a campus, following block after block of sidewalks that all lead to buildings full of rooms.

“Are you ready?”

***

Boys Come Out To Visit – More So, To Ride The Go-Carts

After having visited a few times, they decided to make the trip out to the country. Uninvited.

Bryce and Justin are messing around in my front yard, planning to squish their faces against my bedroom window.

“You look beautiful this mornin'” Justin insists, sarcastically.

Next thing I know, I’m watching BJ tear up the dirt road with my go-cart. I’ve never seen them happier…or more filthy. It was wet, muddy, and covered them from head to toe. Bryce’s tank and Tommy/Structure getup is permanently stained brown. “That just makes em better,” he concludes.

Imagine these young adults tearing it up in a toy. An old friend drives by and Bryce shouts, “Race her Justin! Take her!” The sight of filthy, meddling boys is too much for conservative Kristy and she never even looks our way.

Boys come in, Autumn dresses them in Billabong and basketball shorts while she does a load of nasty laundry. Boys shower, taking turns running in and flushing toilet on each other.

I allow the drawer-less wonders to share a pizza. This day made history – the first time either had ever gone into a public sit-down without boxers. I learn about the heartaches. I listen to the Plans. Meanwhile the tv is playing footage of a car that got stuck under a semi.

“I haven’t seen that n*gger laugh harder in months,” Bryce says. I take it that running into me wasn’t such a bad idea.