Project #19

in The Original 52 Projects

Write down the story of the best night of your life. That’s a tall order, something that sounds good on paper, but isn’t really realistic — a million times harder than naming your favorite song or movie. So, alright, maybe this should be “Write down the stories of the most memorable nights in your life.” There are the easy ones, the landmark events: the night you lost your virginity, the night you got married (hopefully that’s not the same night). But I’m thinking more along the lines of past events that aren’t so easily identified, that might take some insignificant scene or obscure reference to bring the event back from the recesses of your memory, but once the memory is triggered, the whole event can play itself out in your mind like it happened just yesterday. The kind of event where the layers of significance are just laid bare, and without words, with just a feeling, you can fully understand how the event impacted the foundation of your character.

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It was Spring Week during my sophomore year in high school. That’s the week that has all kinds of events — rallies, competitions between the classes, a movie night — and then culminates with a big carnival and concert on Friday. But what it’s really all about is drinking and smoking pot. During lunch breaks, we were going to somebody’s house and raiding their parents’ liquor cabinet. At night, we were hanging out — in school yards or baseball diamonds or wherever we could mill about and not get caught — and doing more of the same.

So by Thursday, though we were having fun, the hanging out started to get a little old. We were restless. We wanted action. So around midnight, about 15 of us headed over to the school.

We weren’t quite delinquent enough to spray-paint graffiti all over the school, but that’s the kind of thing we wanted to do. Toilet papering the trees, well, of course that came up, but that’s old hat. We wanted to do something different.

And then it came to us. We were going to move all the school’s bike racks. And by God, for the next four hours, we moved every single bike rack from the bike rack areas. We put bike racks on rooftops, in the middle of the football field, in front of classroom doors, in front of the administration building, in trees, yes, in trees. We hoisted, carried, pushed, threw and towed bike racks until no bike racks were left to displace. We were on a mission.

The whole time, we were just beside ourselves with outright joy. We thought we were really sticking it to the administration, and that we would be the talk of the school. We were giving each other high-fives and laughing and feeling like the most powerful people in the world, that we could to anything. One guy kept screaming, “WE GOT THE BUG… WE GOT THE BUG,” referring to the spring fever bug, of course. All night long, “WE GOT THE BUG.”

The next day, I showed up to school expecting there to be all kinds of talk about the bike racks. But nothing seemed different. People were just walking to class, like they normally do.

Of course the maintenance crew gets to the school much earlier than the students. By the time we showed up, most of the bike racks had been put back. There were still some displaced bike racks here and there, but you wouldn’t have even taken a second look unless you had been involved in the effort to move them. The only people who had been affected were the people who had to move them back — the maintenance crew. No one else noticed a thing. So there was no fame, no glory, just disappointment and… guilt. But damn, we did have the bug.

The Original 52 Projects

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