Once upon a time, labor day weekend, a full tank of gas, and a topless baby blue CJ7 were all it took to make me smile in that way that made my cheekbones hurt. I know I was that girl, but I don’t remember her much anymore.
I remember tucking my hair under a grimy knit ski cap, we’d crank up Rage Against the Machine, and three hours later a car full of young adult hormones and Natty Light would tumble out onto the desert floor of Utah’s Goblin Valley to spend a weekend playing the world’s best game of capture the flag.
We’d build a little tent city at the campground just outside the park and break off into couples and singles, set up a fire, drink, smoke, shoot, swear, and inevitably some girl would get drunk and puke, or cry, or both – and it was wonderful.
Those weekends seem a lifetime ago now, though I can still remember the perfume I was wearing: Realm, a musky amber scent laced with vanilla, sugar, and pheromones – a perfume that boy from once upon a time liked so much he couldn’t hug me without breathing in deeply and pulling me against him for another note.
I can still create a fire with one match and a ziplock baggie full of dryer lint pulled from my mom’s laundry room on the way out of town. I can still make “magic cobbler” in a dirty dutch oven, and, I still have that road-worn CD he gave me for my seventeenth birthday … and memories, of Labor Day, once upon a time.