I shuffle into the Urban Outfitters, my head bowed in shame and attempted furtiveness. The tall, skinny sales rep approaches me, adorned in body jewelry and wearing a flowing dress that only flatters her figure (and, naturally, a t-shirt worn 90’s style under it). Supposedly “underground” indie music plays quietly beneath the hum of teenage girls either strolling with their pack of friends or dragging their moms behind them.
I’m halfway down the stairs, past the latest vinyls on the weird sub-level, and have my toe in my treasured sale room (Oh Haven! Oh Refuge!) when I see them. A gaggle of Ridgewood girls bursts in, nearly knocking over our friend the sales rep as they sprint towards the rack of bralettes and kick their pristinely white Stan Smiths towards whichever poor soul gets in their way.
The instant I spot their lace-up burgundy shirts and pre-ripped Abercrombie jeans, I collapse against a rack of simply too-high-cut rompers in assorted spring colors. I’m gasping for air and my vitals are plummeting by the time the ambulance arrives. “Thank God,” I wheeze. As I’m carted away, the girls’ impressive collection of designer clutches and Ray Bans causes my oxygen levels to drop dangerously low.
The paramedics actually decide to wheel me through the entirety of Garden State Plaza, which (unsurprisingly) turns out to be a fatal mistake. With each Patagonia I feel a little dizzier. The mustard shade of Timberland boots cloud my vision further. And each pair of overpriced leggings with sheer panels I prod the med student with a shaking hand as a signal for more morphine to be pumped through my IV.
Finally, we arrive at Valley, the ambulance bowling down “Stop the Valley Expansion” lawn signs as we careen into the hospital parking lot. I’m immediately transported to the Urgent Care room. Classmates pull up in their parents’ Audis and BMWs to give me bouquets and pass along their families’ well wishes.
I receive notifications of several sympathetic Instagram posts that I know will be taken down in the next 72 hours. Lord help the girl whose feed isn’t a perfectly coordinated collage of her friends and the girl herself attending parties, running around in bikinis on the shores of Cabo, or eating ice cream topped with the most ridiculous combination of fattening foods during their latest outing to the city. So adventurous!
But then I keep scrolling. “Wow, wish I could fake hospitalization to miss the next 3 history quizzes!” I read, a message accompanied with an irked-looking selfie and supportive comments from the user’s friends. Excuse me, but Ridgewood Overdose is no joke!
Whatever. I ignore the indirect and focus on the playlist my friends have hastily compiled to keep entertain me during my stay. Unsurprisingly, it’s on Soundcloud, which makes me pause as I click the link. Do I really want annoyingly bass-heavy beats and poorly made remixes to assault my ears right now? Oh well. I push play and instantly regret it. My heart monitor begins beeping ferociously, my heartbeat spiking irregularly.
I need to get out of this room. For some reason, Valley thought it would be a great idea to paint the walls with a pattern of the smirky Vineyard Vines whale, lacrosse sticks, and Lily Pulitzer flamingos. Clearly, they tried to relate to the “younguns” of this town, though I won’t deny that some of the adults have fallen into this trap as well.
A nurse wearing a pair of gold Jack Rogers looks like an easy target. I clobber her over the head with my iridescent S’well and make a run for the door. Skidding around a corner, I head for what appears to be an empty janitor’s closet. A girl needs some fresh air! (Even if it’s air slightly tinted by cleaning chemicals and the nasty mop odor.)
To my horror, I’ve stumbled right into my worst nightmare. I’m standing in the middle of a party – in the janitor’s closet. Couldn’t they find any other better place to pop a few Xanax and vape? Oh right, dingy basements and garages are the party location of choice for RHS students. The stench of Juul pods and beer is overwhelming.
“Hey girl,” a football player who I will call Chad shouts, flashing an extremely confident, slightly sinister grin. “You snuck out of your room too?”
I nod feebly, weaving my way through the swarm of students clad in Jersey shore crewnecks, college sweatshirts, and even the occasional monogrammed Shep shirt. The only difference between Ridgewood and the rest of Bergen County is that kids actually commit to the colleges on their sweatshirts by their sophomore years.
Suddenly, I’m deflected off of Chad’s massive shoulders, flying to the all-too-familiar ground under the makeshift ping pong table they’ve ingeniously created using an old stretcher.
As I drift in and out of consciousness, in utter disbelief that I’m on the floor again, I take in the shoe scene. Tall, two-tone faux leather boots, Nike sneakers, duck boots, and even a pair of Rainbow flip flops come dangerously close to my face. I moan and turn over. This is it.
Two days later, I’m lowered into my grave, next to tombstones designated to chokers, Silly Bandz, and hoverboards. Old friends, I never wanted to again. Not this way.
Thankfully, I had the foresight to have one of my friends record the entire ordeal with her Go-Pro. The fisheye video is tastefully projected over my coffin as my family passes out complimentary Yogybee smoothies and Caesar salad wraps.
“Who was this girl? Did she even live in Ridgewood?” one of my classmates asks her friend, who is busy checking out the custom funeral Snapchat geofilter. “I don’t know. I heard she never owned a second house. What a shame!”
Graphics: Christine Gaenslen