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all the misfits and the losers

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"Let's drive away."

It starts with a simple comment ("How many of us here have ever seen the ocean?") and turns into a roadtrip. No, back up. It really starts with their loss at Nationals and the advent of senior year, a hundred responsibilities and realities stacking up like a house of cards just waiting for a gust of wind. "It's the seventeen year itch," Kurt quips at one point, much to Rachel and Quinn's approval. Quinn doesn't acknowledge their simultaneous nods and Rachel looks disappointed for all of three seconds before she's planning their trip to the ocean.

Poor girl, she needs some romance in her life after she and Finn broke up yet again in a spectacular blowout that bored their friends to death. It's one thing to feel sorry for your friends, quite another to feel sorry for them for the sixteenth time in a row. Every time Kurt and Mercedes find themselves thinking that, they end up getting another pint of "sorry about your breakup" ice cream. Their love lives are amazing; they can afford to be charitable.

In any case, if the trip planning spirals out of control, the trip itself is pure chaos. Puck's ancient truck gives up the ghost two days before departure, so he and Lauren end up crammed into Kurt's car with Blaine and Mercedes and Sam. (They have way more fun singing along to the radio than they'll ever admit.) Quinn ends up stuck with Rachel along with Brittany and Santana because Finn needs to be in Mike's car with Tina and Artie. Some exes can be together, some exes can't.

The thing about the club, though, is that deep down--very, very deep down--they all like each other. Santana and Quinn spend the whole drive making fun of Finn's boyfriendly qualities and Brittany keeps insulting his intelligence. Rachel laughs so hard she forgets to be sad. Mike and Tina and Artie and Finn talk video games the whole ride down and Finn remembers what it's like when both people are interested in a conversation.

So it's kind of like magic, reaching the ocean at last. They're lost somewhere in New Jersey, but they kept heading east and they made it. They've probably managed to find a private beach instead of a public one, but they still kick off their shoes and race into the water in unspoken agreement, Mike carrying Artie until the water is past all of their waists. The water is freezing cold, but at least the waves blend in with the seagulls enough that the place sounds like more than the dumpster outside one of Lima's fine McDonalds restaurants.

The ocean is huge and terrifying and beautiful, stretched out in front of them like the rest of their lives. By unspoken agreement, they all link arms for just a minute. What's being a teenager for if not for moments like these, where your feelings are too big for your heart and mind and all you've got is each other?

Their cliche teen movie moment ends when Puck throws Santana into a wave. It's anarchy as usual with New Directions, but here, it's ocean fresh.