I'm pretty sure anyone can write. Anyone with an attention span and a thesaurus, anyway. But say a person was writing with the intention of changing something—with the intention of getting through to someone. While we’re being realistic here, that kind of writing may take a bit more than some Adderall and synonyms in a book. That kind of writing would have to have everything. It would have to be flawless.
Before you get any kind of false perceptions, I’m just going to let you know right off the bat that I’m nothing more than a kid with a story to tell.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t even know where to start you guys off. See, it’s hard to say where everything began and ended, where values were altered and then altered again, and where checkpoints were reached and pinnacles were redefined. I’d done so much changing throughout all of it and I’d relocated myself so many times, both physically and figuratively, that it’s tough to keep track of who I was.
In the eight years it took me to cross off each and every thing on that piece of paper, I’d become an entirely different person, and really, it only took two things: A list of my biggest aspirations written on crumpled looseleaf, and a boy by the name of Macon Prindall.
So even though I’m just a kid—one whose story-telling abilities are nowhere near flawless, mind you—I’m figuring that if I show my story to other people, maybe they’ll see why that bucket list changed everything. Maybe it’ll do the same for them.
I’d never been anything close to an extrovert. I’d spent the first nineteen years of my life terrified of chances and what the consequences might have been had I took them. And I’m damn well positive that without that bucket list, it would’ve stayed that way.
First thing’s first. I’m not terminal. There was just something exhilarating about having them down on paper. There was something so official about it. The folded page in the back pocket of my jeans was like some kind of personal warrant. It made it okay to step out of my own skin and do something insane, and it made me feel like whatever I did, I had an excuse for it.
As far as rules, I kept them simple. I only had two.
On second thought, number one wasn’t even a rule. I essentially just plagiarized the definition of a bucket list and made it my own personal bible. Observe:
Bucket List [buhk-it list] – noun
Deriving from the phrase, ‘to kick the bucket.’ A catalog of objectives one constructs, often composed of difficult or meaningful things he or she wishes/is required to do before he or she dies.
So, to summarize the aforementioned, I had to do a bunch of wreckless shit before I dropped dead. Like I said. Simple.
Rule number two (legitimately a rule this time) was a tad less generic. Still, I figured it was just as important. I decided that I wouldn’t rush through this. I wouldn’t go out of my way to check everything off so it would be over as quickly as it had started. I’d keep an eye out for opportunities, but I wouldn’t tear a situation apart in search of them. I’d wait for the ideal second, and when it found me, it’d scream in my face: “Andrea Kerrigan, Providence speaking. Do it to it.” That way, everything on there wouldn’t be futile. It would be memorable and important and well worth the effort.
Now I’d had that list for over a month before the first opportunity screamed in my face. Over the deafening music and shouts of the sardine-packed bodies in that venue, I could hear it.
The New York City scene was dark and smelled like smoke and oil off the linoleum floor. As I stood in the very center of the crowd, I was shoved around from every surrounding side. Peoples’ arms reached way over my head, obstructing my view of the stage. The amps were muffled by their own volume and, to be quite honest, I couldn’t even tell you the name of the so-called musicians up there.
My head was throbbing from the sound, and I don’t think I was entirely present. People were clearing out circles in the pit and lighting up all over the place. The bouncers did little to stop it, and the smell of weed was almost suffocating as the headliners started to replace the openers.
I’d been pushed way into the crowd by the time the second-to-last band was halfway through their set. The stage was about fifty feet from where I was standing, and I could see the way people swarmed it like bees on a half-melted Popsicle. Any attempt to fight my way through would be near suicide.
A few rows up and to the left, I caught sight of Will. Actually, to be more accurate, I caught sight of his checkered wrist-band before my eyes landed on the rest of him. This kid was insanely tall, somewhere around six-foot-four, and his arms reached way higher than anyone else’s. Despite the fact that he was my closest friend, I always told him that his height was the only reason I went to shows with him; if I was going to find anyone in a crowd of four hundred people, it’d be Will.
Using my shoulders to break through the bodies, I shoved my way over to where he stood. I tugged on his Rage Against the Machine shirt that he wore to every show he’d ever gone to. The thing looked like it’d been to hell and back.
“Andy,” he called. A grin spread across his face, and he reached over and tussled my hair. He said something to the effect of, “Sick-ass show,” but his words were lost in the clamor.
“Will, I want up,” I yelled.
His eyebrows furrowed and he bent down in an attempt to catch the sound waves. “What?”
“I want up!” I pointed toward the ceiling.
Will’s mouth formed an “o” shape, and he elbowed the guy in front of us. A twenty-something year old punk turned around and fixed his glare on my best friend.
Will didn’t seem to notice. “Help me get her on top of the crowd!”
The punk was lost at first, but when Will crouched down and allowed me to step into the heels of his palms, he grasped the idea. With a pair of hands underneath my shoes and another pair placed awkwardly on my thighs, I was suddenly able to see the top of every head from there to the stage.
I started to sink into a horizontal position. After dipping a few feet downward and then resurfacing, Will let go, and I was edging steadily toward the front of the venue. Hands dug into my back. I could see looming puffs of smoke that were trapped by the light, and I could hear the music growing groggier as I came closer to the speakers.
After wriggling out of a bouncer’s grasp, I was dumped onto one corner of the stage. I stood and overlooked a mass of shifting, blurred bodies. The sporadic lights blinded me every time they flashed over my face, but I squinted past them and tried to focus.
A few other crowd-surfers had made it as far as the stage, too, and they were bounding off one by one. The sound of the amps reverberated from behind me, urging me to shake loose and hurdle off. I felt a surge of warm adrenalin through my legs. I positioned the toes of my Chuck Taylors so they were at the very edge of the hardwood. Then I bent my knees and bounded.
Bucket list, objective number 6: Stage Dive.
For a while, I was riding the uncomfortable mattress of hands back toward my original starting point. But, for whatever reason (at the moment I would’ve called it bad luck, but the term would later be redefined as “divine intervention”) I started to veer off toward the side. As I had twisted onto my back and was now staring at the ceiling, I was happily oblivious to the fact that I was approaching a less-dense section of the venue. Granted, that was until my body found a break in the crowd and my head smashed into the linoleum floor. It was tough to be happily oblivious after that.
I lay there for a moment, dazed by the towering bodies and the shock of the impact. In a moment of panic, I worried that my neck had snapped and I’d been paralyzed, but, thank all that is holy, I found that I could feel my toes inside of my sneakers and my back pressed against the solid floor.
I heard Will’s panicked voice on top the noise, but it sounded like he was too far away to get to me. “Yo, someone help her up!”
The wires and light booms up by the ceiling looked like they were rocking, and I stared at them until a different pair of hands wrapped into mine. I was pulled to my feet.
“Are you alright?”
I didn’t know that I was swaying until the hands clasped themselves around my wrists to stop me from stumbling backwards. “Hey, are you okay?”
My gaze dragged onto the face of a boy. My vision was initially blurry as all hell, but I found that if I squinted, I could force the double-lines into one. His dark eyebrows were furrowed over his even darker eyes, and his cheekbones were high and strong—so much so that, had this situation not been serious, I’m sure he would’ve looked serious anyway. His jaw was squared and positioned over a very prominent adam’s apple, which dropped as he cautiously swallowed.
“Are you gonna answer me, or what?”
I wanted to respond. I even attempted it, too, but I couldn’t seem to think of the pronunciation for the word ‘yes’ at the moment. It could’ve been the blow of the fall or the fact that I hadn’t had a single breath of clean oxygen in hours, but my mind wasn’t working correctly. In fact, there was only one thought present at that moment, and it nagged at me: ‘Bucket list, objective number 12.’
The idea was impulsive. That’s a vast understatement, actually, but this opportunity was screaming at me in the same way that the stage-diving opportunity had. I hadn’t been looking for it; it was just there, directly in front of my face, and I’d be an idiot not to take it.
I pulled my wrists into me, forcing the boy to take an unsteady step forward. With unnecessary pressure that stemmed from the adrenalin and lightheadedness, I pressed my mouth to his and allowed it to linger there for a moment.
His mouth was warm and tasted like cinnamon gum and faded alcohol. Although the combination was strangely welcoming, I didn’t stick around to experience it much longer.
I pulled away just far enough to look at him again. His expression had a hint of fluster to it, but once the whole stranger-just-sucked-my-face aspect was taken into consideration, the boy really didn’t look all that staggered.
It took me a second or two to notice Will’s presence. He’d forced his way through and was standing at my side, staring down at me. “Uh,” he began, scratching his shaggy blonde hair, “Andy, do you know that guy?”
“No,” I stated. I grabbed Will by the arm and yanked him away, shoving a path through the crowd. “Let’s go.”