“We all want to know what nobody knows.” –Japandroids, “The Night of Wine and Roses”
You and me, we’re leaving.
I’ll drive. My air-conditioning is broken, and the wipers squeak, but it isn’t too hot tonight. It just better not rain.
I’ll roll the windows down. I don’t know where we’re going. Someplace south. Someplace where you don’t know anyone and I don’t know anyone. Someplace with tall grass and tall buildings.
Remember driving to the beach last summer? Or was it the summer before that? We left at three in the morning, and I was high and wanted you to take the narrow roads that run along chain-link fences and past burned buildings. I wanted you to buy me a milkshake. An Oreo mint milkshake, not chocolate or strawberry or coffee.
You weren’t driving fast enough. You never drive fast enough.
I already made mix CDs. The tape player’s broken, and my car only picks up easy-listening stations and bluegrass stations. I chose songs we liked in high school. Loud songs. Fast songs. The first songs you ever learned on the Stratocaster you got for your sixteenth birthday. Songs we said we’d play if we ever started a band. Songs we still say we’ll play if we ever start a band. I can play drums, and we just need to find someone who can sing. Hell, does it even matter if any of us can sing? I just want to yell until my lungs explode.
I chose songs like the ones I heard last weekend at the house with broken shutters and bikes without handlebars leaning against the wall out front. Everyone crammed into that room with Christmas lights strung along the ceiling and posters of The Ramones and X-Ray Spex and Led Zeppelin hanging on the walls. We were all sweating and jumping, and I thought the room was shaking. I know it was shaking. I liked that it was shaking.
Do you remember dressing to the nines on the Fourth of July? And how we couldn’t see the fireworks from where we were? Leaning out of a bathroom window and chain-smoking. You said that you were leaving the next day, that you were cramming all of your clothes into a backpack and taking as many records as you could carry and driving out to San Francisco or up to New York.
I knew you wouldn’t go.
We drank coffee in the morning.
You asked me about the words to punk songs we both know by heart.
I asked if you thought I could sleep on the roof all summer, because my sheets were always so cold.
Sometimes, I can’t stand you.
When you lie on your couch, flipping through those godawful pictures you took with disposable cameras.
When you play those songs where the singer’s voice wobbles because he’s broken-hearted and just trying to be charming.
When you worry about making enough money and living someplace where the wind doesn’t whistle through the windows.
We just have to leave.
We have to leave now.
Forget your old journals and your computer and your winter coat and your extra batteries. Bring your cigarettes and whiskey and your favorite jeans and your guitar.
I feel eighteen, and I can’t sit still.