Aurora, Nebraska, UNITED STATES — “Wanna go to GI?” Matt says, as he relaxes against his car outside of Espressions, our town’s coffee shop and cultural Mecca.
Max, Matt, Tanner, and I are all there, bored as humanly possible and looking for something to do.
After all, it is Saturday night.
“GI,” which stands for Grand Island, is the nearest “big” city (by big I mean 36,000 people — hey, it’s Nebraska) and it usually provides endless hours of entertainment for bored teenagers on weekends.
“Okay, why not …” we collectively mumble.
We don’t want to sound desperate, but secretly we’ve been hoping for this all night. Matt’s a sophomore and has had his driver’s license since last summer.
He’s also the only guy around that drives a minivan.
Now, most normal kids would consider driving a 1992 Dodge Caravan with wooden paneling a bad thing, but you see, it’s actually the only mode of transportation that can comfortably hold more then five people.
With other cars we have to get creative. This often means putting someone with a good lung capacity in the trunk, or if you need more space, the skinniest person is going to find themselves laying across the others’ legs. Sure, it’s a little dangerous, but hey, it works.
“Where we goin’?” Tanner asks as we drive into town 45 minutes later.
It’s already dark outside and the skatepark is closed, so that’s out.
“Wal-Mart,” Matt says calmly, his eyes focused intently on the road, his palms never budging from the 10 and two position.
“WAL-MART!?” Tanner asks.
“Uh, DUH!” Max says sarcastically.
“It is the cheap-plastic-crap capital of the world! And plus they have like those two-gallon bottles of pop for a dollar.”
Max is perhaps the cheapest of all of us. He rarely spends money on anything, which is probably the reason he has so much of it.
“And plus, what’s more entertaining then wasting 10 dollars of quarters at the games they have in the entrance?” I say, as Tanner brushes his hand across his face, a habit that has annoyed us for years.
It’s not too cold out, I think, as I step out of the van and onto the Wal-Mart parking lot. After all, it is February and it was supposed to snow all week – a prediction that never came true after sending the entire tri-county area into panic.
The parking lot is somewhat empty with only about 30 cars parked.
“I wonder is this is what heaven’s like,” Tanner says as we enter the sliding doors.
“Wow, that was random,” Max says, laughing.
“I mean, think about it, you’re welcomed by some friendly old guy into this big giant place that just shines whiteness and you can pretty much find anything you want,” he says as we walk past the in-store McDonalds, the soft smell of grease-soaked French fries filling our nostrils.
“DUDE! Check this out!” Max says, and runs up to a big bin in the middle of the aisle and pulls out from obscurity a boxed set of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. “This like used to be my FAVORITE show when I was little.”
“Wow…isn’t that odd,” I say and kind of give him a weird look.
“No, dude, you have like absolutely no idea how cool Dr. Quinn is,” he says, in all seriousness. “If I was a girl I would so totally be like her,” he says, and tucks the box beneath his arm.
Sometimes I don’t understand my friends…at all; but isn’t it like that with all people?
You think you have them figured out, set down in a certain pattern, and then they totally surprise you with something odd like having an obsession with a TV show that airs on Lifetime.
For an hour and a half, we browsed the sacred aisles of Wal-Mart, discovering its hidden secrets.
And then of course, we got bored.
“Are you guys about ready to go?” Matt asks, looking at his watch.
“Sure,” we all respond, our purchases in our hands.
Half of what we’re buying consists of food, of course, mostly sugar-based products with high fat content.
We pay using the self-checkout machines, which to me is like THE coolest invention ever.
“Hey, do you mind if we stop at the gas station quick?” Matt asks as we pull out of Wal-Mart’s parking lot and head down the highway.
“No prob,” I say. “What for?”
“Just want to pick up some condoms,” he says, and pulls into the nearest gas station.
For teen boys, knowing the rest stops that have condoms is like an instinct – they just know.
“What do you need condoms for!” Max says, laughing. “You don’t even have a girlfriend.”
“He’s just preparing in case he finds a nice hooker,” Tanner pipes up as Matt runs in.
He returns a minute or so later.
“Happy?” I ask.
“Quiet,” he says.
It’s nearly one as we drive home – a whole night spent accomplishing nothing.
The music from the stereo plays and the windows are rolled down.
Cool air is filling the car.
I look over at my best friend Max and see the moon casting a ray of light on his face.
It’s in this exact moment that I realize how great it is to be young, so full of life and possibilities, so free to be as random as you possibly want.
It’s amazing to me, how with the right song playing on the radio, on the perfect night, with the people you care about most, can make you feel so different.
As I sat in that old van as we traveled down the deserted highway I was truly happy, and for that brief drive, I truly, honestly, felt infinite.
Zach Brokenrope is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International