Friday, May 13, 2016

Is it loaded - the summer of '94

“Is it loaded?” I asked, glancing across my ’84 Oldsmobile at my best friend, Jeremy Coll-Goss.
“Yep,” he said.
“Completely full?” I asked, to make sure.
“Yep,” he said again a wolfish grin crossing his face.
I respond with a smile and open the driver’s side door to my carriage. Jeremy gets in the other side carefully not wanting to discharge the weapon in his hands.
It’s summer in Alaska, fast approaching July 4, and Jeremy and I are enjoying our time together. High school is done for me and, with jobs and him having another year to finish, we don’t know how much more time we will get to hang out.
He takes a moment to position the tank on the floorboard, making sure not to twist the hose. He positions the barrel of the gun to hang out the window as he slowly closes the door.
“Dude, that has got to be the biggest Super Soaker I have ever seen,” I say with a chuckle.
“I know, right?” says Jeremy in a very typical response for him.
We pull out of the driveway of his parent’s North Pole, Alaska home and head towards the main thoroughfare. Jeremy’s eyes are darting across the candy-cane decorated streets looking for a victim.
We pass Pizza Hutt and turn down St. Nicholas Dr. headed towards the iconic Santa Clause House. That’s when we see her.
I look at Jeremy, his sunglasses are on, hair blowing in the wind, “You ready?”
“I am.” He says.
We approach the girl walking towards us. I slow the car down just enough for Jeremy to take aim. Then, with a pull of the lever he fires both barrels of the Super Soaker.
We could hear her scream as the ice cold water splashed all over her. Laughing, we drive off.
June of 1993 was often filled with weekends like this for Jeremy and I. Typically he would get off work late and I would go and pick him up. Together we would drive all over Fairbanks and North Pole looking for any sort of mischief we could get into. This day we happen to be heading to Chena Lakes for reasons I can’t recall.
I don’t remember if we soaked anyone else as we drove to the lake or if we just waited until we got there to fully empty the weapon – more than likely on me when I turned my back to him.
Looking back, it wasn’t the nicest thing in the world to do but, at 18-years-old, we didn’t care.
Besides, this was our last summer before transitioning to adulthood, well, it was for me. Like I said, Jeremy had another year to finish.
When it became apparent neither of us would be able to attend graduation (because of a choice I made I did not pass my Economics class and had to take it through the summer) we kinda made a pact to each other to have a blast that summer. And we did.
I often think about the things we did that summer. If ever there is a time I get a bit nostalgic, it’s about that summer.
When fourth of July approached, Jeremy and I bought a bunch of fireworks and headed out to a dumpster site on Chena Hot Springs Road. Joining us were my younger brother Dom (who was often with us), Scott Livingston, and Travis Watson (two of our closer friends).
I distinctly remember when we lit off a pack of Saturn Missiles the box tipped over and began firing directly at us. Scott jumped in the car while the rest of us ducked behind it practically falling over ourselves with laughter.
We finished that night drinking a lot of whiskey and Jeremy’s favorite drink at the time, Fuzzy Navels.
Pretty sure we were playing cards (possibly Rummy but I don’t remember) later that night. I seem to remember laughing so hard I spit orange soda all over the guys and then fell off my bench into a bag of beer bottles. Nothing broke, thankfully. 
That fall our other best friend, Harold McGrogan moved back to Alaska from Ohio. Harold, who was a bit wilder than we were, quickly found his groove with our group.
Much like the song, Blood on Blood by Bon Jovi, the three of us were like brothers. So much of my life has been filled with memories of one or two of these guys and I doing something stupid, somewhere. Or staying up late trying to figure out life’s mysteries, helping each other through rough times, celebrating happiness together, crying together.
It’s been a long time since the three of us were together and I miss those two fiercely.

Jeremy lives in Denver now. Harold is in Iowa. Of course, I am in Wyoming. Life has put a lot of distance between the three of us. Doesn’t matter, though, I still call them brother.