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We Young

posted Jan 28, 2017, 12:31 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jan 28, 2017, 12:41 PM ]
We’re young. We’re, like—real cool[1]. We’re not as scary as we seem, walking down the street as a pack. We just like to travel in numbers. It’s safer. It’s more fun. It’s a public declaration. They’ve got my back. I’m not alone in this world. This moment, this feeling is food for the journey—yeah, the one I end up traveling alone. That journey, but not this ride. 

I don’t like roller coasters. They’re the rides that others shove me toward and I resist, but in the end it’s all just a game. I want to know what it’s like to drop out of the sky. I want to see the people below me grow smaller and smaller until I can barely see them as they squint and point their tiny finger up and say “Holy s#*!—I’m not going on that.” But, they will go on “that” eventually. They’re pronouncement has only stoked the fire within the other miniature human, rendering a challenge where one tiny hand will pull that other ant-sized body by the hand, making promises all the while of how much fun it will be.

“Don’t do it,” I scream—but only to myself. “They just want to hear you scream! They just want to feed off of your fear.” We all want to laugh at fear in the face even while we tremble. Perhaps, that is the reason for all of these man-made models of horror. We’re all so afraid of every thing, every day. Something could happen at any moment and when we least expect it. It is all so out of our control. And that’s what everyone wants: control. Control of you. Control of him. Can’t control the weather. How about control your finances. All are expected to step to the beat and do as they’re told—and always listen, listen, listen. So, we hand over the ticket, step up onto the platform and board the ride.

We strap in and face fear in that slightly rusty but mechanically controlled environment. We know just when we’ll scream, when we’ll breathe deeply, and when we’ll wish we never got on “that.” Then more clicking. Then more coasting. Then it’s done. We did it. We survived. We stumble off. We’re not afraid of anything—but really we are. We’re afraid of everything.

We’re afraid of each other. We’re afraid of being alone. We fear what people think—but we shouldn’t—but we do. And so we walk as a big messy mass down the street: laughing and shoving and flirting and so very afraid. But we’ll never admit that. We’ll always strap in and act strong. We are young. We’re, like—real cool.





[1] Poetry and adolescent friendship are such powerful forces. Put the two together and you have, for me (even if you never skipped a day of school) the poem by Gwendolyn Brooks: “We Real Cool”. That poem and the way young people feel when insulated within a circle of friends give way to this piece of writing which is at once bright mosaic and woeful tribute to youth and to childhood friends.