To think, all those years living in Charlotte County and I never knew what kids my age did for fun. Personally, I’d sneak out at night… and go to Waffle House. Once, I even snuck out to go the county fair’s night event. Pretty tame, no? But Charlotte is one of those places where there is often literally nothing to do. Unless you really like staying home and reading books. Even then, the libraries are so small, you can read them out of good books in a year. There are little kids, and older families, and lots of retirees… but there are no people in their twenties and thirties. Is it any wonder the high schoolers get restless there? But today I discovered the secret of the county’s youth.
A fight with a dear one sent me walking back to his house– when angry, I need time to cool my rage, and besides, as my grandfather always said, what’s the point in being Irish if you can’t be thick? So stubbornly walk home I did, even as the clouds thickened and the Florida sky shot off lightening in bursts brighter than fireworks.
My route home, after doubling back over some grass lots to shake off vehicular pursuit, took me past a supermarket. Behind the parking lot of the grocery, packs of teenagers were lurking… skulking, clumping, perhaps even straggling. You know that defiant posture, the one that screams “I’m doing something I’m not supposed to!” even when the person in question is well within their right to do whatever it was that they were doing? The one that tells the world this person is used to being given a hard time for no apparent reason? Every knot that came traipsing in my direction had that look about them, even the ones who were just looking for a lost pair of glasses.
I walked by three more groups, the sky sparking above me, before I heard the music. My grandmother would call it noise. I’d say she was wrong. It was coming from a building or perhaps a complex at the edge of a park that was at least in part taken up by a YMCA. A concert. A metal concert, at that. I wandered over, looked on at a mock fight in progress between two grinning combatants who knocked each other over, only to help each other up, passed a lot filled with broken brown glass, watched a girl on her cell phone assure someone on the other end that everything was fine and she’d be home later.
Why didn’t they have these things when I lived here? I smiled at the thought of all these kids joining in the fun instead of forced to make their own trouble. That smile carried me home, despite the rain that blew cold needles in the dark. Stubborn, thick, and Irish, I arrived in one piece, wondering if twenty-six was too old to start on my childhood dream of playing in a metal band.