Chasing Infinity

Chasing Infinity

personal narrative by Nailah Mathews, age 16

I once read this book by a guy called Chbosky. It was about this kid who got abused and was really awkward and wasn’t good at making friends. But then out of the blue, he did. He made some friends and this one night after they go to this show, the awkward kid says, “We are infinite.” At least I think that’s how things went down. It’s been a while since I read the book. I never saw the movie.

I never really understood what he was saying until this one night when I was coming back from a show with two of my friends. We burst out of the Marquee Theatre with our arms looped around each other. We were breathless and excited and just plain happy to be alive. Fresh out of the pit, our skin was a cocktail of stale sweat, perfume, and beer. When we stumbled into the car, I was in the passenger side and the top was down, and I was remembering back to the show.

In the pit, barely three bodies from the barricade itself, there was this moment where I looked up right before the band shot confetti at us. The ceiling was dark because all of the lights were still down, but there was this rush. Everyone screaming along to the words we knew by heart, bodies pulsing and writhing together against each other—united, withstanding the force of storms because we were the storm.

We were together. We didn’t know each other, but we were brothers. Sisters. Lovers, children, mothers, fathers, friends; and I remember remembering the way I held my breath. Then, there was a flash and confetti was coming down on us. I had laughed, we had laughed, all of us together breathless and still and then we were screaming again. Screaming with our comrades in love and in life, singing back to our heroes, clinging close to our fellow misfits. I had never felt more invincible in my life.

And I remember being in the car with my hands peeking through the sunroof, and my eyes on the stars. I was holding my breath again. There was still confetti in my hair. My friends in the back seat were just as spent as I was. We were all still hiccupping with excitement. We were all still  in awe of being alive.

In that moment, I started thinking about this one time when I read this book by a guy called Chbosky about this awkward kid who couldn’t make friends, but then did, and then said, “We are infinite.” And I understood what that awkward kid meant.

It was that feeling. That feeling of being completely surrounded and being completely alone. It was being pressed against strangers and laughing and crying with them. It was calling them family. It was what stopped an entire show when a girl passed out. It was that jaw dropping, bone crushing, heart stopping, synapses firing awe of being alive. It was that feeling. That feeling is infinity.

And that night, I swore to God, to my grandmother’s grave, to the stars above my head, to the wind whistling in my ears; I swore to whoever was listening that I was infinite.

That I am infinite.

2014 Scholastic Writing Awards Gold Key 

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