by Kira Swales

What is it that most epitomises that feeling of youth? Maybe it was the tribalism and the bravery that came with it. The way we would bound over to kids that looked a bit like us and invite them to join our gang. The lack of self-awareness coupled with a desperate self-consciousness. I heard on the radio yesterday that teens don’t feel the pressure of social judgement from adults like they do from their peers. That makes sense.

Anyway, maybe it was the way that sexuality wasn’t problematic in our early experimentations. Everyone made out with everyone, in doorways, stairwells and on dance floors. No, maybe it was the desperate times and secrets shared. It was the way we self-destructed together and patched everything up inexpertly with TCP, plasters and kisses where there ought to have been doctors, therapy and stitches. It was the pack mentality, the shared elation of a room erupting in simultaneous laughter.

It was the way we self-destructed together and patched everything up inexpertly with TCP, plasters and kisses where there ought to have been doctors, therapy and stitches.”

It was a New Year’s Eve. Probably the last time we were all still there and still young and still together. It was the way we barrelled into group hugs like waves crashing against sandbanks; some of us everyday friends, others not seen for some time. Illuminated by street lamps, we skipped and whooped, buoyant with the lack of knowledge of what was yet to come.

We had no awareness of our trajectories or limits. We couldn’t predict the break ups or break downs. Within a few short years, many of us would fall out, fall apart, lose money and gain experience. Some of us died, never to be seen again, with just a candid midnight photograph left to prove our last meeting.

Looking back on it, that night felt like a culmination of all of our youthful exploits and the apex of our friendship, although every year is a blur. It was a microcosm of the hundreds of days and nights spent shouting and singing in streets or passed out in parks, laying together in piles like smoked fish, or pressed into each other, into dark corners, or pressing dark secrets on each other.

We didn’t know it yet, of course. So we just carried on as we knew best. And, oh boy, did we carry on. We drank, we sang in the streets, fucked in bathrooms and cried on shoulders. We smoked, endlessly. We shouted up to and out of windows, fought, drew blood, called an ambulance, called our friends who were lost in the crowd further down the street and didn’t know what the fuck was going on, called our dealers, called a truce. With the street overflowing and kids dancing in the fountains, cars and cops simply gave up. That night, we were all there in the chaos together, effervescent in the New Year’s noise.

Kira Swales | Instagram @kiras89

Kira Swales is a tired queer and northern mess. She always dreamt of being a writer, but gave it all up during a difficult life period. Contributing to Dear Damsels is her first attempt at getting back on the horse after an approximate five-year hiatus.

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