Sometimes I wish I could go back to parts of my life, as if they were destinations on a map. Pack up the car and drive back to my first day of college, as I cautiously walked up and down the dorm hallways, anticipating the next year of my life. Schedule a flight and visit the marina in Sarasota the day I was nervously proposed to. Even the smallest of times, those that don’t often get recognized on my radar, I’d like to see – the day in the drama room back in high school where we planned the rookie induction week. When we all felt invincible. Of course, I can visit the places, but it’s never the same. I can repeat the same drive I took with my college roommate, when we belted out Disney songs for two hours straight on the way to Cocoa Beach, but the moment is gone. People change. I change. Or, in the case of spots I spent most of my formative years hanging out (Borders), places close.
Now, more aware, I try to bottle of the moments, freeze them in time, wishing I could put them on a GPS as a favorite place to visit. Go back one day ago when I was sitting lazily by a lake, eating dinner from a food truck with some of my best friends nearby. I know the moments that’ll stick with me, the ones I’ll file away to bring back on lonely days.
A few days ago, my high school best friend said she couldn’t come to my bridal shower, and probably not my wedding. The friendship had been dwindling for a while; we were no longer “best friends,” but she was the kind of person I wanted to keep around. There was so much history there. I wanted to be with her through the end of her story, to see what became of us. So when I heard this final blow, instinctively I thought…
It’s okay, we’ll just go back to Chick-fil-A, to that night ten years ago when we stood idly under the street lamp, talking to our friend who just got of work. We had no plans for the night, nowhere to be, so we decided to hop in the car and just drive. Fast. Us in one car, the two guys in another, we raced to the playground we frequented, the one no one else visited after sundown. Windows down, hair flying, we laughed, knowing what we were doing was wrong, but loving every second. We were free. We were flying. And we were alive.
Of course, we can never go back to that time. The Chick-fil-A is there, but the guys no longer live in the state. We could all reconvene, but it won’t be the same. We’re not those carefree 17-year-olds anymore. We have responsibilities, and second acts to our stories. One we don’t even talk with much anymore.
And it just seems so final, knowing those moments are over. The ones I still think about, and remember with distant eyes and a hidden smile. But as painful as knowing this sometimes is, I’d never want to get rid of them. They were my glory years, after all. They remind me of who I once was, and what I’m becoming. They remind of the good and bad, embarrassing and exciting. And while I can’t book a train ride to go visit them, I can open my mind like a briefcase during those periods of “oh, remember when…” and revisit them, if only for a short time.