The young, hormone-rich bodies of the two fourteen-year-old boys sent signals to Mark and Tad that urgently needed translating. Their conversations, normal verbal communication, in the fresh, Adirondack air, by the lake and in the sun, and at night, definitely at night, were subsumed by a much more powerful chemical communication exchanged between them through the air, in a language neither understood and neither could control.
The stolen, secret cigarette shared between them by the campfire was arousing not because cigarettes were forbidden but because they were sharing, the two of them, in a secret together. The intimacy of a shared teenage cigarette was a deep, wet, and hungry kiss. Their first.
As I exhaled the smoke from the Marlboro purchased with a forged note from Mary's Gift Shop in town, I tried to decipher the signals I was getting, not just from Tad, but more importantly from myself, my body. The smell of the pine trees and the gentle lapping sound of the lake against the shore is idelibly connected to the sound of my racing heartbeat and flushed, smooth skin: thump-thump-thump, so hard it seems to show through my t-shirt.
Tad came to the Adirondacks from another country, the son of a wealthy family who purchased a second -- or third, or fourth -- home on our lake. His differentness and originality felt to me like emerging from the stale air of an airplane into the fresh tropical air of Florida and the Miami sun.