Pilgrims to Mecca

Armed with BB guns and 40 ounces of Schlitz Malt Liquor we exploded windows out of abandoned buildings on Broad Street, enormous rats scurrying through the mountains of debris and rubble at our feet. We slept on the train trestles huddled against the cement landing, shivering into each other’s warmth as trains rocketed by hundreds of feet above the river. We bought beer and wine and liquor from corner stores and older brothers, piled into each others’ second hand cars, turned the music up and toured the streets of our city like rock stars in a tour bus. We broke into each others’ pools and skinny dipped at night in the river, set up camp in the old pump house and picnicked in the lushest gardens of the most beautiful parks. We dyed and cut our own hair, taught each other how to drive and to drink, snuck out of our houses and into each others’ bedrooms. We haunted dive bars and all night diners and apartments of punk bands papered with graffiti. We shared each others’ boyfriends and girlfriends and lipsticks and leather coats and vintage velvet gowns. We gave each other nicknames and bruises and kisses. We talked philosophy and art and music and literature. We were brilliant and crazy and stupid and wise, sneaking around the law and the man and our own mothers. We wrote poems and letters and ranted and fought and sang and fucked and slept in piles like newborn baby kittens. We betrayed each other and wrote vows to each other and felt our hearts leave and reclaim our bodies for each other. We dropped out of high school and went to college. We went to Outward Bound and to work and other countries. We didn’t know that some of us would get wet brain or have liver failure, that we’d die in a house fire or of a heroin overdose, that we’d marry and divorce and move into our childhood homes, becoming husbands and wives and musicians, artists and writers, archaeologists, social workers, mattress salesmen, lawyers, medical librarians, teachers and professors. We didn’t know we’d become mothers and fathers with children of our own, that we’d find God and happiness and other cities full of brand new people. But we did know, we always knew, that we’d return eventually like pilgrims to Mecca, our holy stories the creation stories that we told about each other.


Published by Into Quarterly, Into: Richmond, 2016 with special thanks to Laura Benys and Virginia Sasser! 

Valley HaggardComment