The night air is cool and the moon is hidden. Nonresidents of the Korean district, we have nowhere to go. But all we know to do is to go. We’ve been away from home for over 12 hours, but no one is ready to return just yet.
We are five friends. Five tired bodies, five heavy stomachs walking out of the $12 Korean BBQ joint. Yet my heart has never felt so light.
It’s not the fact that we’re headed to a new boba shop a couple streets down. It’s not that there’s a possibility that our friend will give into our teasing and spot us all.
It’s the shuffling of white Stan Smiths matching up with black, beaten-up Converse on the gray pavement. It’s the lack of light with the exception of small shop neon signs and a single phone screen showing the Google Maps route. It’s the out of the blue rendition to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” with everyone belting along as we pass a family-owned pharmacy. It’s the small talk and the catch-ups and the jokes. It’s the inclusivity despite our odd number of five trying to fit on a sidewalk path made for two.
We are carefree. Our stress, our problems, our worries seeming so far away. It almost feels unreal, but you know it is because you can feel the body heat radiating from your friends of either five years or five days and see the cold air coming from your mouths as you look at each other and say, “This is what it feels like to be alive.”