There comes a time in life where age happens. We grow older and then we look back. This happens in the different stages and in phases, which begin from childhood and grow with us until our final days. Old chapters close so new ones can begin.
Sometimes I am touched with a hint of nostalgia. Maybe it’s something in the air. Maybe it’s the change in the season and the cool winds that represent the mornings of early fall are a trigger for me. And then there are October sunsets, which appear golden as ever — or maybe it’s the way my thoughts narrate in my mind; as if to tell a story of me, reliving the old days, back when we were young and free to be crazy.
I think about the way things were back then and how everything hinged upon going out and having a good time. We were all young then, remember? There were no such things as consequences. At least, not really. There was only the need to feel as young and as crazy as humanly possible. We were free to scream and behave as absolutely unhinged as possible.
I think of my old friends this way. I think about the way they were — or better yet, I think about the way we were, young as could be, and still so hopelessly defiant and rebellious, yet, with all of our claims to be independent, we still fell into the categories of culture and cliques.
We were the longhaired kids. At least, most of us were. We were the rejects and the misfits, the wild, and the troubled. We were certainly followed by a stigma which is something I wouldn’t learn about until much later in my life. Either way, this was us. And this is where we came from.
I can see them now. My old friends, I mean. This is before the real trouble began. We were still at least somewhat protected from our crazy selves.
Every town has kids like us. Every town has their little hangouts and places where kids like us would go.
I think about Tommy and his contagious smile. I think about Craig. I think about Dorian. I think about all of us and the days and nights we spent at the town park. We dared the odds. We dared the fences we jumped and the authorities that tried to keep us in line. This is part of what it meant to be a kid back in my day. No one ever wanted to go home. No one ever wanted to be the first to leave.
There have been times throughout my life when people asked me, “Where were your parents when all this was happening?” Well, the truth is my parents were either working or they were home or they were living their life. And me, I was a young, skinny little kid just looking to feel something or experience something a little more than just a good time. I wanted lust. I wanted speed. I wanted to feel like the music we played because keep in mind, each of the songs we listened to were like special little anthems to us.
It wasn’t all bad, you know?
My youth. . .
There were some good times. There were some fun nights. And I understand where the downfall began. I was there. I saw it all, firsthand.
I was there when the mood changed from recreational to deliberate but dammit all, there is, was and will always be something about my old hometown. There will always be something about the old spots we used to gather at. I will always have this sentimental attachment. I will always have the memories and I will always remember my friends because above all things; nobody ever forgets the kids from the neighborhood.
It’s funny to me now. I often see pictures of my old friends and the life they have. Suffice to say that sometimes I laugh. Safe to say that when they post their family pictures, I laugh. I laugh because I remember them when they were the age of their kids. I laugh and think about stupid things, like bottle rocket fights in the fields near my house.
I see some of my old friends with high-end job titles and laugh about the time we threw a bunch of red jelly all over the floor in the girls locker room in junior high school. I think about them now and the responsible parents they are. And then I laugh about the time we bought a mouse from a local pet store. All of us were red-eyed and high. We were stoned as stoned could be and then we went to the White Castle over on the Turnpike. We ate all the burgers we could eat and then we let the mouse go in the ladies room.
Then we waited for a woman to go in. Then, of course, we waited for the screams.
I think of my old friends and the ones I speak with. Then I think about the ones that I can only have one way conversations with (at least for now) because they’re gone.
This morning, one of my programs is being passed in front of a board of trustees meeting. My program is a mental health program. Thinking about this and then thinking about times, like say, when I was running around my neighborhood as one of the local lunatics, I start to laugh. I think my old friends laugh too. I think we all look back and laugh. Thankfully, we’re still around to do so.
Just know this
I miss you guys.
I love you all.