The best day of my life was one that I never even saw coming.
I’d just gotten off of a long shift at work and somehow got lost on the drive home, the route I drove about four times a week. After giving up on making it home anytime soon, I headed for a friend’s house for a pre-planned bonfire with my favorite group of people.
Having forgotten to bring extra clothes, I braved the heat in my polo and khakis. That summer was a hot one, the kind of heat that wrapped around you like a wet suit, humid and all-encompassing. Despite our better judgment, we decided to start the fire before the sun went down, dripping sweat while arguing on the best way to get a flame.
After nearly an hour we abandoned the “boy scout” methods for starting a fire and decided to make a trip in my blue pickup to the local supermarket for a fire-starter and some snacks. A while later, we were all sitting around the fire, talking and laughing. Reminiscing about that time at winter camp when Mike cut up his leg on a toboggan and all we had to stop the bleeding was a few menstrual pads and some medical tape, all while howling in laughter. Sometime after this, someone brought out a guitar and began to play old Beatles songs; everyone was quick to join in, filling the backyard with off-key wailing and snickering.
An hour later, we were all covered in marshmallow and ready to be indoors.
After putting out the fire and filing everyone inside and washing up, a feat that is much harder than it sounds, a friend brought his backpack onto the kitchen counter, and dumped out a mountain of VHS tapes. On closer inspection, we found that they were the bible cartoons we’d all watched as kids, Veggietales. After some deliberation, we unanimously decided on a sing-along and we all piled up on the long couches in the back and popped in a tape.
Despite the fact that, at that point, half of us were gay, a quarter were stoned, and the rest were atheists, we all sang along to the old worship songs. Everybody had somehow remembered the words and was not ashamed to screech them at their top volumes. Tangled in messes of bodies and limbs and blankets, we screamed and laughed along, leaning all over each other. We watched tape after tape, singing until our throats were raw. Around 3 in the morning, I made the decision to go, considering the fact that I had to work early the next day. I was enveloped in a group hug with enough people to suffocate the poor girl on the inside and, upon my release, hopped into my pickup with a big old smile on my face.
I remember driving away from the sound of my screaming friends and thanking the universe that I was alive, watching them fading in my rearview, all waving wildly.