It seems like this must have been a lifetime ago. The group of us have all moved away and branched out in different parts of the country. Some of us grew older. Some of us grew apart and some submerged in the winds of anonymity.
There are rare occasions that come up which incline us all to get together. But aside from this, life has taken shape for us all. People moved on. They found careers and built lives for themselves. They built homes and families and yet, somehow, no matter where we go or how far we move away, we will always be old friends from the neighborhood.
Sometimes there is nostalgia in the air. Maybe it is the season. Perhaps the springtime brings on the old fascinations we had and leads me to the memories of way back when. The warm weather triggers the ideas of when summer was on its way. We were young. We were strong enough to take on the world – or at least a barroom filled with people and take them outside to the street. We were the “Boys.” We were crazy. All of us had our own version of crazy too. Some more than others but this is what made us “Boys.”
There is something in the air, which brings on the wistful desire to go back and relive a moment’s past. We want to see everyone, to laugh out loud, and to defy the dawn the same as we did as kids after a long night out.
There is an old sentimental yearning that draws us back to where it all began. This is what connects us as old friends. This is also why I say there are no friends like old friends. I say this because I believe this is true. There really are no friends like old friends. They know all of our old secrets. They know about the crazy times and wild nights. They know about the hard times as well, which is fine because in the case of hard times, old friends never need an explanation. They know what to say and what is better left unsaid. This is what makes our friendship so valuable.
There is a need that comes along to reconnect or rethink about the days of our youth. We think about the music and the songs of our time. We think about the streets we walked along and where our friends lived.
We were always out, always looking for a good time, and always looking for a laugh, or looking to get a girl and live to tell about this the next morning. There was something almost prince-like about us, as if we were from our own little kingdom, and no one from the outside was allowed near our castles unless we invited them.
I still have memories of the hometown festivals and the lights from carnival rides. I remember when Mikey dared me to swallow a bunch of goldfish we won from one of the game booths. And then someone dared me to throw them up afterwards, just to see, which I obliged of course without protest because after all, a dare is a dare.
There was comfort here. There is memory, there is love, and there is the wildness of youth and the unmistakable nights that flavor our memories to whet the appetite. This is what flavors nostalgia with the warmth of a reminiscent smile and a laugh. This is also a reason to shake our head while thinking, “God, I can’t believe we did that.”
I remember the rumbles and riots we were supposed to have with the rivaled and neighboring towns. I remember the fights at the roller-rink or behind the Tri-County Flea Market on Hempstead Turnpike.
Sometimes, we come across pictures from our youth. This is proof of our glory days that we swore would never end. We see ourselves the way we were, all of us together, smiling, and posing for a picture that we never expected to be as meaningful as it is to us now.
There were the drives out east to the places in the Hamptons and the nights that led to mornings on the beach, still crazed from the night before. And yes, I miss them too. I miss a place called C.P.I.’s and the memories of a friend we called, “Wally.”
Sometimes I see the pictures from our youth. I laugh at who we were as opposed to who we are now. I remember the drinking games and the gravity bongs and the parties that left a mark on us as well as the town. And here we are now, all grown up. It is funny to think about where we came from and then realize where we are in life. I remember when we were all screaming lunatics and now, most of us are parents to children that are the same age as we were at the time we all met.
We preach to our children. We tell them about the importance and the dignity of honesty. At least, I know I do.
But truth be told, whenever I am asked about the days of my youth, the answer is yes. You guessed it.
I lie my ass off . . .
It’s great to hear the voices from our past, even if it’s only for a minute. I swear, I can see us as we were, young, crazy, and literally unstoppable.
Thank God for this…