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July 18, 2005

-- Freshman Journal --

Saying goodbye in the cold Nebraska rain

By Zach Brokenrope

“Have you ever thought about just leaving?” I ask Suzy as we sit in the back seat of Matt’s car. “I mean, not telling anyone. Just getting in the damn car and leave, take nothing and don’t look back.”

“You have no idea how many times I’ve thought about it…” she says, after a moment. “But, I think there’s a part inside everyone that stops you right before you do it, a moment of reality.”

“That’s the whole point of it though, you don’t think about it! Hell, isn’t that the whole point of being a teenager? You do the stupid stuff now when you’re allowed to be an idiot – then later on, you’re supposed to be an adult.”

“Most people worry too much about other stuff they have to do,” she says.

“If we were able to, right now, would you go with me?” I ask, turning my head and looking at her. She pauses for a moment.

“Yes … and I wouldn’t look back.”

It’s a Thursday night and school’s been out for about two weeks, but I couldn’t find a way to end this column.

For the past year it’s been my confessional, and as I have changed, so has my writing, I think. So I had to wait for the right event, the final story I will share. Tonight I found it, in the middle of an open field.

Nebraska is known for its extreme weather. When it’s hot, it can reach the low 100s easily, and when it’s cold it can easily be negative. When it’s dry, the crumbling layers of dirt can dance like fallen leaves. And when it rains, it rains enough to make you drown in life.

It had been raining since 7 a.m., hard and brutal in large droplets that pounded the ground. And here we were, 10 at night and driving down a country road in Matt’s new car, a Nissan with a stick shift.

For the past year Matt has pretty much been the main driver for those of us not old enough to drive and Chris, who sat next to him in the front, is the same age but doesn’t drive very much. Suzy and I sit in the back.

Suzy is perhaps the coolest girl I know, in all honesty. She’s one of the few skater/punk/emo girls in our school and doesn’t get excited over anything. She’s also infamous in our school for her outspoken political views; at one point yelling expletives about the president at our lunch table while standing up waving a bread stick.

If this isn’t enough, she also happens to be the object of affection for most of the guys in our school.

Five minutes earlier we had been sitting at Suzy’s house watching TV when Matt shut it off.

“You know we should really go out to Pioneer Trails and watch the lightning,” he said randomly. That’s the thing about being a teenager, even when you plan something it still has the opportunity to end completely different.

Pioneer Trails is the local make-out spot in our community, about five miles outside of city limits and secluded behind a row of trees.

Officially it’s a “wildlife refuge” but in reality it's nothing more then a small man-made lake, an old dam, and a field for parking.

We had quietly snuck out of the house, careful for her Dad not to hear; as a minister he’s pretty strict when it comes to where she’s going, but Suzy has a wild streak no one can stop.

Ten minutes later we were stepping out of the car and onto the soft dirt, rain pounding our bodies and lightning brightening the black night.

“This one’s gonna be loud,” Chris says as we climb on the roof of the car. A few seconds earlier, a gigantic flash had illuminated the sky, and we were just waiting for the following thunder.

“Naw, not too bad,” Matt says. Immediately after this, a thunderous roar erupts in the air, shaking the car windows.

There’s nothing quite like thunder that moves you.

“When I was little, I used to think thunder was God bowling,” I say. It’s cold; the wind is blowing and the driving rain is drenching us.

“I don’t believe in God,” Chris says somberly. Lightning and then a clap of thunder.

“Do you ever feel like you have so many emotions inside of you, you’re gonna burst?” Suzy says out of nowhere. “Like you just can’t handle the world around you and you just want to go crazy?”

“Every moment of my life…” I say, as the thunder drowns out my word. Suzy jumps off the car and looks toward the sky.

In one swift breath, she pierced the sky with a resounding scream.

Seconds later I join her, then Chris and Matt. Thirty seconds later we’re quiet.

“That felt good,” I say, as we get back into the car.

If my freshman year were a movie, this would be the last scene, so this is where I leave you. We’re driving back into Aurora, wet and cold, our hair plastered to our flushed faces, our clothes clinging to our bodies.

We don’t speak, and the music plays on the radio and I know this much in life: My name is Zach Brokenrope, I am 15 years old, I don’t know exactly where I’m going in life or what’s going to happen, but I plan on living it to the fullest, every damn second.

See Zach Brokenrope's other freshman journals:

High school years are finally here

Singled out as a geek on the first day of high school

My wild Saturday night at Wal-Mart

Legal at last with my learner's permit

The gut-wrenching choice to come out

Dancing until I nearly dropped, then walking home


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