Sometimes Noah forgot how rich he was until he returned home to that beachside monstrosity they called a house with its kickass pristine blue pool, saw his dad’s red Porsche convertible shining in the driveway, and listened to the sounds of ice clicking in a martini glass. Noah rolled up to the curb in a less-than-impressive cab, but that was only because it must have slipped the old man’s mind about what time he was flooing in. It happens to the best of us, and no sweat off Noah’s back. Although speaking of sweat, it’s a lot hotter in Southern California in the summer time than in Scotland. He felt beads of it threatening to form on his flawless skin, while the sun worked its on magic as every second outside led closer to one of those sexy tans he thought he was famous for. Sunshine, it’s a thing here.
Raising a hand to wave at one of the neighbors, he used his other to balance his hefty trunk on his shoulder as he made his way into the house, peering up at the vaulted front entrance ceiling and hanging glass chandelier. (Don’t worry, the owl was okay). Noah lazily dumped his stuff in front of the door and slipped the rose-colored sunglasses that gave off that groovy 70’s vibe from his eyes. “Hell to the yes.” This was one awesome house he got banished from for seven years. “Arff! Arff!” Nooooo. Fifi, his mom’s beloved toy poodle that had taken over his bedroom when he moved to Hogwarts, came careening around the hallway from the direction of the kitchen, little toenails scuttling on the floor as it tried not to slip. Fifi raced right up to Noah’s legs and growled in what it thought was a ferocious manner, pulling on the hem of Noah’s pant leg in hopes of tearing it off. “No dude, you didn’t do this right. You were supposed to die when I was away, so that I could come back and not have to kill you.” He picked up the menace’s growling, wiggling body and tossed it into the sofa couch before continuing into the house. “Moooom. Dad.” He wandered from one room to the next, but each was empty until he reached the pool area, where he found his mother floating on a water tub, sunbathing.
He raised his eyebrows. Did they forget that he was coming home or…..? “Hey mom,” Noah said casually, expertly ignoring his mother’s green, polka dot bikini and all of her plastic enhancements. She sat up abruptly, a little disoriented by the interruption of her meditation. “Noah? Oh Noah baby, I didn’t know you would be home today. How was school?” She smiled at him as if he had been away a mere six hours. “It was, you know, school. I graduated. Go me.” Noah smirked and offered himself a thumbs up as he made his way to the pool’s edge, slipping off his shoes so he could deep his feet into the clear water. “That’s nice. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t give you a hug. My toes are drying.” She gestured down to her wet toenails, a glittering green nail polish coating the surface. “Anyway, your father’s probably out playing golf with some of his friends, or whatever. He’ll help you get your things set up later.” Noah nodded, shoving off the disappointment that returned as leftover from his graduation day. They hadn’t come which was fine, but it was the only time he was ever going to graduate. His aunt was there, so I guess he couldn’t really complain. “Finally! Oh my god, you are a lifesaver Pierre. Put those over on the table, just off to the right. Mmm! I can’t wait for this party. A girl’s got to get doooown and loose.” His mother almost fell off the plastic tube when a man carried in several party items, including alcohol and a barrel of whatever-the-fuck-that-was. Noah was unfortunate enough to see his mother, in front of several strangers, do a shimmy, her fake boobs bouncing side-to-side in such a way they probably should have come with a warning. Noah didn’t look phased. You could only see that so much before it reaaaally didn’t affect you anymore.
“We’re having a charity event tonight, raising money for children with………” She stopped talking, looking at Noah like she had lost her train of thought. “Jared, who’s the charity for again?” Noah’s dad walked in through the back door with a bag of clubs slung over his shoulder. “Children with Polio, I think it was. Hey Noah, good to see you son. Ready to get down to business and start making money like your old man here? Bright and early tomorrow morning, we’re getting started.” He pointed his finger at Noah in a challenge, like it was game day. Noah gave him a cheeky salute and hopped up from the poolside, turning around to find his bedroom and hopefully, a drink. Although he was pretty sure finding a drink in this place was as easy as finding water on a beach. “Alright, I’m taking a shower and getting changed, and then I think I’ll head down to the beach and try out my board again.” That was what Noah really looked forward to – surfing again. If he could have had a chance to stay in California during his teenage years, he thought he would have had a good shot at going professionally. He grinned, waved, and left the area, pegging down his awkward feelings as normal.
Something was wrong. It was day six, and Noah was lying on his Beach Boys-centric bedspread at nine am as he stared at the popcorn studded ceiling. He should be down on the beach at one of the bomb fires, dancing with a pretty girl, getting her number, sexing her into all hours of the night and then pretending he’d lost her phone the next morning. Maybe he wasn’t over Kiki. Maybe he was experiencing floo lag. Maybe the food wasn’t settling well. Shit. He was a disgrace to all party boys everywhere right now. And the saddest part was, his parents were downstairs dancing, huffing coke, and doing god knows what else and just basically living their lives, and he was……is this what moping is? He didn’t like that, he didn’t like being the adult. His parents, they were never meant to be parents or have any responsibility, but he loved them anyway. They loved him too, it’s just that this is not how he was supposed to be spending his after graduation summer. Noah had gone out the last five nights, and hated every minute of it. When he wasn’t getting, “your accent’s so zany!” and “top o the morning to ya!” from every person he opened his mouth in front of, he found himself wishing the birds (girls) didn’t all look like clones of “Barbie got into the bleach again”. And the magic. Fuck, he couldn’t use magic in front of any of them. He couldn’t talk about most things, or what school was like, or the classes he took. Sure, the “make love not war” protests were pretty wicked, but even those exhausted him after a while. Noah sat up, staring at his beautiful, pouty self in one of his floor length mirrors. “You’re being a bitch, Noah. Lighten up. No more perpetual rain and overcast days, no more “An American walked into a bar…” jokes, no more nasty pudding of ANY kind, no more exams or rules, no more body shaming school robes, no more listening to people say “aluminum” totally and completely wrong, no more “Yeh, yeh, yeh,” at the end of every bloody sentence.” Noah chuckled, shaking his head. Now he had surf waves, people from his own culture and country to hang with, and delicious fast food. “Of course, no sexy British girls either, or people saying “it does my head in”, or really witty comebacks, or those mornings you wake up and the dew still clings to the trees and you can’t hear anything else except for the bird at your window……”
Noah threw himself on the bed again and fell asleep. It was nine twenty-five.
“I don’t understand why you’re being so stubborn. I’m glad you had a good experience, it was good for you to get culturally involved, but like your mother said, you can’t live in the past. England/Scotland/Wherever the fuck your school was, isn’t your home anymore. Can you really see yourself spending the left of your life on an island? Besides. I expect you to help me run this business. You don’t get rich sitting on your ass, as a matter of fact.” Noah’s dad stood in the doorway, watching with a look of absolute confusion as Noah packed the rest of his things into boxes. He taped the top of one of them and then turned to look at Jared. “I know. I can’t live in the past. It’s just, I barely realized that California is my past. I don’t feel like I belong here anymore, honestly. And no, I mean, I probably won’t live in the UK forever but it’s where I want to be right now. Besides, aunt Gem said I can take up with her there until I get my own place.” Jared shook his head, crossing one arm over the other. “I know you. You make decisions off the cuff. You’ll be back here in a couple months, wishing you’d never left, a little more stoned than you were before. I guess I can’t take it too hard when I remember it’s only temporary.” Sure. Noah was cool with him thinking whatever he wanted to about it. Actually, he was downright relieved that his father didn’t threaten to cut him off. He was pretty sure that having his son work in the publishing industry with him was what he had planned for him his entire life. Noah didn’t take it hard, that his dad thought he was wishy-washy. Hell, everyone did. You know why? It’s because he is, hah. But hey, life’s for living in the moment, you know?
Noah said his goodbyes while intentionally leaving out any farewell to ole’ Fifi there, hoping that the next time he came around, it would actually be dead that time. How long were poodles supposed to live for, anyway? “You and mom have a good time while I’m gone. I know I’m just cramping your style.” He jokingly punched his dad in the shoulder. He meant it though. It felt weird being in the house, and he knew his parents liked to keep up the delusion that they were still seventeen and having an eighteen-year-old son around kind of messed that up for you.
And just like that, nine days later Noah was leaving
on a midnight train to the U.K. And if anyone asked, it was because Noah had developed a little soft spot for those weird Brits of his, and he wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye just yet. It was all true, although when you took a hard look at it, the real reason was because California felt like even less of a home than England did.
NOTES: ugh this sucks.