Man had it been fun. I had spent the weekend up in Michigan with some of my best friends simply building memories. One boy, two girls, and me. But now, it was time to leave the rushing shores of Lake Michigan behind me. Granted, I would miss the feeling of the grainy sand in between my toes, and the red sunshine radiating out from my body, but above all, I would miss the deep, dark purple orb of the night that encompassed me on the moonlit beach. It reminded me of a watercolor painting or something. Time and time again I’ll see and feel that same beach in my dreams, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that I was a sophomore in high school and sadly, it was time to go. It was about 11:00am when Chris and I each said our goodbyes, but some goodbyes carried more weight than others. We each bid farewell to Stella and Audrey but Chris and Audrey hugged for a really long time. I was going to, and did, see Stella later that week, so our hug wasn’t as passionate. After the well wishes were over, Chris and I piled into his Mom’s Minivan and she drove us about fifteen minutes to the train station where she dropped us off.
“Bye, mom.” Chris said solemnly.
“I’ll see you later Chrissy.” She replied while hugging him tightly.
It was a mid August day, and it was bright out. It was so bright that it hurt your eyes if you didn’t squint. Chris and I walked up to the waiting deck and sat down together on the sandy wood. Chris was above average height and had an abnormally athletic build. He wore messy brown hair, and owned a bony face with crystal blue eyes. He was an attractive kid to say the least. He was the kind of kid that people needed to be around. Everyone wanted to be where he was, hear what he was saying and do what he was doing. But for now, it was just me and him. Chris was moving to New York the next day. Ironically we were waiting for the train to take us home, but Chris wasn’t going home. Chris was going to a place where he used to live. It was sad as hell. I didn't like to dwell on it much. Chris and I had become such good friends in such a short amount of time, but that didn’t mean anything now. We wouldn’t get up at the same time anymore. We wouldn’t go to the library anymore. We wouldn’t even sweat in the same jersey anymore. Chris quit running when he got to New York to focus on basketball and go on to play in college, but I’ll never forget breathing next to him in every race we ran in, every step of the way wanting to beat him more than anything. Chris would periodically fly in from New York for things like going to Homecoming and Prom with Audrey, but I never got to spend time with him like I used to. It had been about 45 minutes when the train finally arrived. We walked up the metallic steps of the train car and took our seats. Chris and I sat in the back of the train near the snack bar. It was flooded with natural light, and the seats were sticky.
“Should take us about an hour.” Chris stated.
“Hopefully.” I lied.
We swayed on the train for 30 minutes, reminiscing about the weekend and enjoying the desolate trees that stood outside the train before the car came to a gradual halt.
“Damn, why are we stopped.” Chris asked
The conductor spoke through a muffled loudspeaker and informed us that they were experiencing a temporary delay due to another train on the tracks.
“Shouldn’t take too long folks.” The conductor screeched through his mic.
Five Pandora Radio songs later, I asked him what he was listening to.
“Rock.” he simply stated.
“Who?” I Inquired.
“The Strokes.” he replied.
These two words created a new little section of myself. The Strokes came to be my favorite band of all time and helped me find my way through high school and eventually college. I listened to them religiously for all of my teen years and I still listen to them today. I owe part of this discovery to Chris. But that didn’t matter. After another five Pandora songs our skepticism started to reach new heights. We were growing tired of the lack of movement. I stared out of the clear window. It was so clear it might not have even been there. I fixated on the empty yard of an abandoned property. The sign in front read “For Sale”, but I don’t think anyone was going to buy it. Right before a migraine was about to set in from my constant stare, the train cranked to a start and Chris and I were relieved. We were back on track, but I knew that every rotation of the wheels beneath me was one step closer to losing Chris. Either way the train was still moving, we were still listening to Pandora, and we were almost dead. For the rest of the ride Chris and I shared memories, opinions, tastes, and jokes. We laughed a whole lot in those sticky seats. The train softly came to it’s final stop before the conductor came back on the mic and informed us to get off the train.
“Home.” Said Chris.
All I could do in reply was let out a soft chuckle because I knew he was right, and I knew he was wrong. We both mustered up the strength to stand up. It was a foreign feeling. At the end of the ride it was hard to walk, talk and see, yet it’s one of the clearest memories that I hold with me today. We grabbed our worn down travel bags and stepped down the metallic steps on to the grey pavement. We walked out of the fluorescent train station and under the dark bridge that upheld the train tracks. We kept moving another block before we came to the spot where our paths were destined to diverge. Now, standing in front of me in the buzzing beam of the street light, was Chris. For all I knew, this was the last time I would ever see him. I looked him right in the eye and he looked back at me with his crystal blue eyes.
“I guess I’ll see you later man.” he said.
“Yeah, I’ll see you later.” I said back.
Then we hugged each other. Our shadows even hugged each other. It was just my friend and I, and I soaked it all up. Eventually, we let go of our embrace. Then I watched Chris turn his back and walk down the dark street, into the deep and purple orb of the night.