A really stupid decision that felt an awful lot like an excerpt from a John Green novel.

We were at that age when conversations consistently drifted towards a naive desire to run away. We loved our friends and hated them by the following Tuesday. We were hopeless romantics who claimed to have broken hearts and we were just struggling to find our aspirations, but everything seemed irreparably far away. So naturally, we stole a golf cart.

The six of us were at my cottage, gathered in a broken circle around an evening bonfire, a guitar in someone’s hand, and the mismatched notes of several of us singing along. We waited patiently without suspicion for my parents to go to bed with a 40 of Bacardi and other miscellaneous drinks hidden in the bunkhouse.

It was pitch black and we took off, followed by another two from a neighbouring cottage, towards the other side of the lake. When you drink underage – when you can’t drink at your parents cottage – you choose the most strategic location to get away with it, like a dedicated Christian camp a 30 minute walk from your place. We walked slowly, I’m not even sure why we hadn’t started drinking. We sifted between one another, talking about girls who flirt more than other girls and probably stuff about wanting to stay here for a while longer.

When we made it to the other side, the quiet and deserted Christian camp on the edge of the lake, we settled at a picnic bench with a lonely flashlight in the centre of the table. We passed the bottle around and slowly, one after another, I think we lost count. I couldn’t tell you exactly how we got the golf cart, but it went something like this. Two guys I had barely known for long at all, worked for the camp and had keys to access the carts – there was also talk that they knew how to hot wire the golf cart’s, but I think we had a key. Unfortunately, they had assumed that when I asked for a golf cart, they were coming with us. But much to their surprise we stole the golf cart from them, and the six of us piled on, while the other two stayed behind with our remorseful suppliers.

The golf cart was a two seater with a small back that was definitely only meant to carry clubs. It had a roof, and absolutely no head lights. We had two dangling on the roof, three squished in the front, and one holding carelessly onto the back as we took off through the forest with the well-trusted iPhone flashlight as our guide. We yelled the entire way – an iconic chant between us of for the boys! followed by a much louder, for the sluts! throughout the 2am calmness of the forest and the sleeping Christian residents. We continued to pass around the bottle of rum, taking turns sipping from it, before someone decided it was a great idea to ceremoniously whip it off the cart into a near by field. Again, this was all pretty stupid.

Despite being mostly drunk and partially fuelled by teenage angst and desire, we managed to keep our mouths closed for the brief moment we drove by my parents cottage before bursting into a full-fledged roar once again. We managed to dodge most trees in our way except the one time the flashlight cut out – I mean that time we were trying to take a selfie with the designated flashlight phone.

I’m not sure what we talked about on the cart, but we must have been gone for hours, with no concern over what an empty tank of gas could get us into. We sat close together, with two holding hands, and another holding one of their hearts. While one of us fell for the other, while he began falling for someone else. This was the culmination of friendships that had really only just started, before they morphed into one’s that became much, much more, and before some eventually ended. If you want to know what carefree feels like, we could probably tell you.

We stopped on the side of the road to pee, realizing at this point we were leaving the cottage road and heading out to the main ones. I’ve been up to my cottage every year since, most of the time more than once, and to this day I have no idea how six teenagers on a two person golf cart made it down an incredibly steep and loose gravel hill without a scratch. But thank God we did. And in our state of thinking everything through with the utmost sincerity, we took that two person golf cart carrying our flailing bodies and an iPhone-based-headlight onto the main country highway connecting one small town to the next. Then somehow we made it back to the camp. The cart was in one piece, or at least in the darkness of it all, it looked like it was in one piece. Somebody parked it, I’m not sure who, and we stumbled into the trailer park looking for the golf cart suppliers and the two that had been left behind. In retrospect, none of that was a good idea either. And I can tell you that when you start to get into a fight in a quiet Christian cottage neighbourhood, security does notice. By security, I mean a teenage girl on a golf cart who somehow had the authority to tell us to get out of there, twice. I think we would have been in a lot more trouble if we had stuck around for a third.

So we walked back thirty minutes, some of us already mad at the others, because it just comes with the territory. When we made it back we walked down to the dock and sat momentarily, taking it all in. One of us skinny dipped, one of us said we were going to but never did. We shared two small beds in the upstairs attic of my cottage, despite the rules that the guys and girls should sleep in separate rooms.

We woke up to headaches, to a foggy memory, and a small bit of patching up to do between friendships, but we were fine. We lied on the hammock and laughed when my mother couldn’t figure out why we were so tired. Most of the group left later on, but we talked about that night for months as though it was a trophy of teenage freedom sitting in the back of our mind, and yeah, we liked the fact that everyone who didn’t make it up was jealous.

That night was like the peak of teenage years in so many ways. Of making irreparably stupid decisions that I would never make again, but one’s that gave out one hell of a good memory. It was every cliche I could imagine, the angst, the romance, the mismatched friendships, the drunkenness, the desire to run away but settling for a cottage in the woods. The following years came with obstacles that threatened friendships, formed relationships, and left many of us heading in completely different directions. Some of us, are still best friends. All of us, have moved on to completely different phases of our lives. One’s that surpass the teenage urge to run away, the day’s of meaningless fights and constant make-up’s, the things that made your teenage years so teenagey. But I wouldn’t trade the friendships I had in those days for the world – I wouldn’t trade that night – something we used to call, with every bit of confidence, golf cart night.

Things we would have been listening to on nights like that (A Playlist):
Third Eye Blind – Jumper
The Fray – How to Save a Life
Dixie Chicks – Landslide
Simple Plan – Perfect
Train – Drops of Jupiter
Oasis – Champagne Supernova

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