7.08 / August 2012

Anthem

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There are the boys and girls with India ink tattoos. There are the boys and girls who wear black. There are the boys who swim in city pools during heat-waves, pools with names like Italian gangsters, watched by the girls who suck on sour-apple Blow Pops while lying on towels grabbed from the shower rods of their parents’ pristine bathrooms. There are the boys and girls who have smoked cigarettes long enough to like them, but not long enough to need them. There are the girls with heart-shaped sunglasses, in colorful bikinis, on deck chairs whose legs are sinking into the hot black tar of rooftops. There are the boys in baggy jeans and wife-beaters, up on those same rooftops, who are not afraid of heights. There are the boys who roll blunts expertly, their legs dangling over the edges of the roofs. There are the Japanese girls with skateboards, the Korean girls who wear boys’ basketball sneakers, the white girls who say “Yo.” There are the white boys who rap, the black boys with neon glow-sticks, and the Spanish boys with pierced tongues. There are the girls with dyed black hair, bleached hair, fire engine red hair, the girls with steel-toed combat boots, the girls with mesh plastic slippers from Chinatown, the girls who give blowjobs, and the girls who do not. There are the boys and girls who feel that they own the city, who do not work summer jobs, who get cash allowances from parents who are out of town. There are the boys and girls who are curious about what will happen if they swallow a pill they find between the cushions of a couch at a party, or if they hassle a homeless man, or if they befriend a homeless man and bring him home to their parents’ apartments for dinner. There are the boys and girls who are on good terms with their drug dealers and baristas, but on bad terms with their orthodontists and shrinks. There are the boys and girls whose parents go out of town to the Hamptons, or the Hudson Valley, or Connecticut, the boys and girls who throw parties for which they make day-glow fliers. There are the boys and girls who drink strawberry-kiwi wine coolers, who throw up inside grand pianos, who order ecstasy like they are ordering a pizza. There are the boys and girls who are nostalgic for a time they can’t remember, a time before they were born, another century. There are the girls who scratch their arms with safety pins, and the boys who press their faces against the back windows of 6 trains, watching lights-red, green, yellow, blue-slash the darkness of the tunnels. There are the boys and girls with nicknames: Raven, Mickey, KJ, Dee, Peaches, Big Ben, Little Ben. There are the boys whose fathers are in jail, and whose brothers are in jail too, who somehow live in Upper West Side apartments by themselves even though there are just fifteen, who everyone envies. There are the girls who shoplift from drag-queen boutiques, pocketing costume jewelry, unafraid. There are the boys and girls whose parents are artists and architects and rock stars, the boys and girls whose mothers had them when they were already forty-eight, the girls and boys who were adopted from third world countries, or first world countries, or this country, somewhere in the South. There are the boys and girls who form crews, who spray graffiti all over downtown, and take the train to Brooklyn and do it there, and all over the walls of their own bedrooms.  There are the boys and girls who hang out with twenty-something movie stars who play street kids, addicts, sexual conquistadors-characters no different from everyone. There are the girls who like girls, and the girls who like boys, and the majority who like both. There are the boys who like boys, and who like men, and who have slept with women twice their age. There are the girls and boys on rooftops, singing, watching the sun go down behind New Jersey. There are the boys and girls in K-holes and bad trips. There are the boys and girls who have been to Paris and Tokyo and Belize, who say, “I will never leave this city again.” There are the boys and girls who feel old and young at the same time. There are the boys and girls who say, “I feel like something’s going to happen.” There are the boys and girls, so many of them-there are packs of them, swarms of them, hanging low to the ground, misting over the city like fountain-spray carried by the breeze over a park. There are the boys and girls, making it happen. There are the boys and girls who will not wait.

 

 


Emma Smith-Stevens' work has appeared or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Originally from New York City, she currently lives in Gainesville where she's an MFA student at the University of Florida.
7.08 / August 2012

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