It was strange to find myself in the driver’s side and Marty Johnson riding shotgun with jungle juice in his belly and philosophy on his tongue. He’d been through four years of college and never got drunk at a party. He’d been the ‘responsible’ one. Usually our roles would be reversed, except I would only speak in tongues. That night, plans of a party began to unfurl through online invitations and mass text messages from fair-weather friends. Marty got nervous.
I had to find some way to ease him up, let go of the tensions he had with meeting people and talking to others. I offered to drive, although all the rumors of free alcohol in the house told me not to. We arrived late in a rickety basement in some town, in some place, middle of nowhere important, New Jersey. As he slung back shots of Irish water and finally laughed the courage necessary to talk to the only blonde there, I observed in the back. For once, in a long time, I watched with sober eyes as the play moved on without me. Kids shouted, called out profanities, and made terrible decisions over Katy Perry tracks.
After two in the morning I drove Marty back on I-95 going 60, as working men and drunks sped past us. “I have had all the opportunities in life,” he said “but no idea where I’m going. I’m a graduate but I have no where to go. I just want to be happy.”
If you remain in the middle lane of a Jersey interstate and obey the law, someone will pass you. In Jersey highways, someone is always trying to pass you. Marty tried to speak again but I was focused on the vast space of I-95.
The Talking Heads played quietly on the radio.