Sometimes I remember that Ngozi wishes she had made Kent from California and my soul ACHES for this. Because I grew up in Southern California and I can see it SO EASILY. Not to mention, imagine Jack visiting Kent during, like, off-season in the Q. They drive down Beach Blvd. to Huntington every day (because of course Kent’s from North OC) and, because it’s Jack, of course they go for a run on the sand because it’s great strength and endurance training and they run until it’s too hot and they’re too tired and they just strip down to their trunks right there and dive into the water.
Kent’s grown up in the sun so he doesn’t burn too easily, but there’s a freckle explosion before he gets a proper tan in place and it embarrasses him to no end while Jack chirps him non-stop. But joke’s on you, Zimms, because Jack burns. Horribly. We’re talking sunscreen every hour and a half, spf 50, waterproof sport and he’s still hobbling and applying solarcaine and aloe that evening.
Anyway, they exhaust themselves running and Kent teaches Jack how to body surf and they finish off the food they brought before the afternoon, so Kent talks Jack into chili cheese fries from the snack shack (“junk food is still better than no food and beach chili fries are the best worst chili fries you’ll find on earth”) where they flirt with a group of girls in bikinis old enough to be hiding alcohol at the bottom of a cooler and get invited to join in for some beach volleyball.
They break off as the volleyball and drinking winds down and walk to the end of the pier and watch the sunset and if their hands bump against each other or their pinkies lock for a few seconds at a time, neither of them says anything about it.
The sun has set, the breeze has picked up. Jack is finally calling it cool enough and Kent’s thrown on an oversized hoodie, his hands shoved into the kangaroo pocket to stay warm while he walks around with his bare legs sticking out of his trunks. The sand holds just enough residual warmth that he’s still comfortable in his flip flops.
Kent insinuates the both of them into another group who are all gathered around one of the many firepits dotting the coastline, orange flickering glows lighting up the dark strip of sand along PCH and they chat and laugh and of course someone pulls out a guitar and starts playing Wonderwall until his friends start throwing marshmallows at him for it. There’s more alcohol in secret containers for when the police drive by and Jack and Kent are tipsy when they slip off, unnoticed, and climb a lifeguard stand to laugh and chat in the dark and listen to the ocean roar and the cars whine along PCH and Kent’s pointing out how you can actually see some stars here but the moon’s bright and everything is cold (the sunburn has set in) and suffused with a silvery glow except Kent is always so warm so Jack leans into him and they kiss until the beach closes and they have to go home or risk the car being towed and both their hides flayed by Kent’s mom.
They drive home, ignoring the speed limit like everyone else, windows down, laughing, covered in sand, sunburnt and holding hands over the center console.