I’d have sworn it would always be this way, our youth, the summer, the waterfront and the early mornings after the long nights, driving home into the sunrise and then finding my way through the door to crash for a few hours. I’d have sworn I could always do things like this. I thought I would always be able to run forever, as fast as I could, and I could live my life on the edge.
I’d have sworn this was the truth and that age was only something that happened to old people. And me, I swore that I would never grow old. I would never let that happen. Not on my watch.
I would never lose the rush or the need for adrenaline. I swore I would always have the feeling of life at the sunset and the bars down by the waterfront. The lights were bright. The music played and I was an entirely different version of myself.
And then there was love. Then there was young love. Then there were the times when I was like, hey, is this it? And I took hold of whatever I could to see if I could feel something as wild as ever, crazy as I could be, and I hoped for the best – or maybe I never hoped for anything. Maybe I didn’t know any better, which is one of the greatest things about youth. You just don’t know any better. No one ever told you about the things that go wrong. You can believe in anything you choose because age and experience haven’t stepped in yet to disappoint your dreams.
There were times when I found myself driving home after a long, long night. The sun was on its way up. I was facing something. I knew I was. I was on the verge of something new but I was unsure whether the next chapter would be something fantastic —or would it be work. Would it mean I’d have to find a real job or think about things like stock options or annuity and pensions.
I knew the rules of the road. I knew that you have to pay to play and eventually, someone would call in the marker and then I’d have to fess up. I knew there was something coming my way. I just didn’t know what it was. All I knew is this was me at the gates of a new life and I was too afraid to step forward and let go of that thing we call youth.
I hear old songs on the radio from time to time. I hear them and they remind me of the late nights and after hour spots. I remember the 4:00am stops at the diner, laughing too loud with a crowd of my local degenerate friends, without a care in the world and hardly a dollar left in my pocket.
I remember wearing the brave face and the bar fights. I remember the nights out east, and me, running through a parking lot because of a girl I insulted, whose brother was certainly much bigger than I was and trying hard to hunt me down so he and his friends could kick me around for a while.
I always thought my ride through life would be a certain way. I thought friends are supposed to stay friends forever. And then they moved. We split up. We had our falling outs. We found a new direction and now I look back, sometimes with a pathetic reference and I shake my head because I hardly remember some of their names. Or, I cringe when thinking about my style and the different levels of my priority.
I think of the good times and I smile. I think of the late nights and I find a spot in my heart that will always remember what it was like to be young and defying the dawn. There is a piece of me that will always be that prince. And there is a piece of me that will always remember my old kingdoms. I will always remember the nights down by the waterfront. I will always remember where I came from and how I’ve grown.
The one thing I always wondered about was love. I always wondered if it were real or just this elusive fairy tale that people talk about — or was love something people settle for and pretend to feel it for the rest of their lives.
Oh, but it’s real.
I know it is (now)
I swore I would never grow old but then again, I was young then. Then again, age is always relative and as am I relative, I am relative to who I was and who I plan to be. But nevertheless, love; she is always going to keep me moving. She will always keep me guessing, wondering, hopeful, and above all things, love will always teach me to challenge the sunrise.
Do you want to know something?
I’ve made it a priority to see the sunrise as much as I possibly can. Maybe this is why I never sleep. I don’t want to miss it. As a matter of fact, I could probably count the number of times I’ve slept late.
Maybe this is how I know I’m alive — because I am alive, in love, and up before the sunrise to face every day from now until the end.