I think I learned the meaning of life that day. I just didn’t know it yet.
It was the week after graduating high school. We figured we had all the freedom in the world now but we weren’t even sure what to do with it. So we just dicked around in Boston Common, laid about and stared at the sky. Given all our options, it seemed like the best choice.
I used to stare at the clouds a lot when I was younger. Dad used to love looking at the sky. He’d say, “That one looks like a mastadon!” I thought he’d made that word up. He liked to make up names for constellations too. To this day, I still remember where to find Pac-Man and Titania. And Dad’s star.
So it surprised me when Dizzie said, “That cloud looks like Pac-Man.” She pointed and sure enough, the cloud looked like a cheese wedge with a piece cut out. Even as we spoke, though, it was breaking apart into something unrecognizable. Clouds were like that. At first glance, they just drift along, boring and white. But as soon as you focus on a cloud, try to learn it like a painting, then it’s already halfway gone.
“I wonder where the ghosts are?” Chev joked.
I thought about it for a moment.
“Maybe we’re the ghosts,” I said without thinking. Everyone laughed. I smiled.
“Hey, Dakota,” Dizzie nudged him. “Better watch out for clouds when you’re flying off to Canada. Don’t want to get eaten, eh?”
We all knew Dakota was going back to Ontario but now it was finally dawning on us. I think it was hitting Dizzie the hardest because she rarely let the subject drop. We didn’t even see Kira much since she’d gone to college and now another bandmate, another friend was completely gone.
“That’s okay,” Dakota pulled out some grass from the ground. “Didn’t you know? Canada’s got mounties with flying moose that shoot lasers out of their eyes.”
“The Canadian airforce? Well, I guess you guys need something to protect all your maple syrup. I still don’t know why you want to live in America’s hat. Is the view that good up there?”
“From the top bunk? Yeah. It’s not bad. How is it being our bitch?”
Chev chuckled. “Yeah. They’re bigger and on top.” He and Dakota made an awkward high-five from the ground.
“You’re not supposed to defend him, douchebag! You’re American.”
“As apple pie, Diz. But the man’s got you on the ropes. I gotta reco’nize that.”
“Screw you!” Dizzie rolled over to look at me and I stayed frozen. “What about you, Sadie lady? You’re always so quiet!” She ignored Chev who whispered “you’re always so loud” so that we could barely hear it.
I’d been looking at the Pac-Man cloud the entire time. It was just three small wisps now and even those were turning into vapor. “I’m just looking at the clouds.”
“See anything interesting? Flying moose?”
“No. Just regular clouds.”
“Hey!” Chev said. “Look at that one!”
“What is it, Chev? Is it your mom?”
“No! That one looks like a dong!” He laughed.
Our eyes immediately looked to where his finger was waving. He’d sat up in his excitement. But very clearly, just above the treeline, was an erect cloud penis, complete with two balls. We stood up to get a good look and were knocked down by laughter again.
I think I learned the meaning of life that day. Then again, I’m not sure how much meaning life really has.