We weren’t the friends who drowned ourselves in music and people and forgot ourselves in a sea of writhing bodies. We weren’t the ones who pushed through crowds to get to the DJ or snagged onto the pole in the middle of the dance floor to attract attention. We rarely ever did that.
Our Saturday nights were quieter.
As college students, kids on the brink of adulthood, we were stories waiting to be told. And our stories somehow always led us to the same bar on the edge of town, with the booze flowing cheaply up until ten, and then everything was back to normal prices, but that never stopped us. We gorged on fast food and oily kebabs from the Turkish shops that sold halal meat; we drank ourselves to a state of dizzy every time we were around each other and in a good mood; we smoked when we got bored, when nobody was looking, when we thought we needed it (but not all of us did); we laughed over spilled drinks and cursed over missed opportunities and talked about everything we could ever think about under sparkling stars and winking moons.
We were the kids on the edge of the story, not the ones in the centre. We were the side characters who cut themselves off from the crowd and found refuge in the bar on the edge of town.
But we were the heroes of our own little story. Stories about growing up, about an education we all wanted but simultaneously hated, about rethinking our values and disregarding everything our parents ever taught us, about holding on to each other when we were blind with drink and the floor was a blur, about lying in a heap on each other and trusting the other person won’t move, about questioning relationships and friendships, about picking fights with people we’d known for years, about revealing secrets you never thought you could speak out loud. We had each other, and for almost-adults, sometimes that’s all you really need.
Because being on the cusp of twenty means a lot of things. It means having nothing to lose, but ruling the world. It means being old enough to know better, but young enough to be stupid. It means drinking enough to enjoy yourself, and getting home sober enough to hide it from your parents. It means sneaking cigarettes while you’re out and hoping you don’t smell like ash by the morning. It means wanting to find someone to alienate the loneliness for just one night, but being too self-conscious to do anything about it. It means being jealous of your friends for what they have that you don’t, but loving them for being the thing you need to keep you together.
Being on the edge of adulthood means nothing more than making your own mistakes and sometimes deciding you don’t want to learn from them. It also means chastising the ones who makes those same mistakes. Being an almost-adult means that most of your Saturdays will be spent drinking until you can’t see the floor and kissing your best friend seems like a good idea, and then waking up on Sunday and screaming ‘Why did nobody stop me?!’ at your friends in caps-lock over text messages.
But as long as you have the bar on the edge of town with the Happy Hour that runs until ten and the people who always end up being taken their by their own separate stories, then being an almost-adult doesn’t seem too bad.