Maybe this has something to do with the time of year. Perhaps the approaching month of June is a trigger that inundates me with a flood of memories. They stream to me, live and in-color, the days from way back when. There was a time that was not so long ago, but yet, everything seems long ago now. Yesterday seems like last week. In fact, last week can seem like last month and last year, well. to be honest; last year was here a minute ago. I swear. Now it’s gone. Amazing, right? Time pulls off a trick like this. Age comes whether we bargained for this or not. Maybe this is why I find myself embracing these tiny segments of my life. I find myself triggered and then instantly, I think of where I was or where I might have been, like say, precisely at this time and on this day, thirty-some-odd years ago.
We were younger, of course. Everything was different. Life was different. Our influence and our experience, our mindset and our ability to heal, to move or sleep beyond noon were all different. The world was a different place to us then. We were both physically and emotionally different people. We had different haircuts. We listened to different music. We loved differently. We laughed differently and of course, we lived differently.
To be fair, perhaps this is only me. Perhaps this is me responding to a flood of memories. Or, quite simply, perhaps this is nothing more than a dose of nostalgia. Maybe this is me just missing some of my old friends. Maybe this is a seasonal thing, which I acknowledge. I acknowledge that I go through this each year when the school year is about to end. I am reminded of graduations and the other rites of passage that come with young life. Maybe this is the remnants of emotions that existed before the millennium and camera phones. Even further, I think this dates back before the 90’s and back when we thought the year 2000 to be the year of flying cars.
I know who I was. I know who I am and where I came from. I know that none of us were perfect. We all had our own private story. We had our problems, our faults, and of course, we had secrets too. And we all knew about this (at least a little bit.). We all knew about each other. We knew about each other’s family. We knew where each other lived, where we slept, who our parents were and what they did. We knew there were problems here. And that’s the thing about life. No one gets out alive. no one goes untouched or unscathed. We had scars. Sure we did. There were hard times. Of course, there were. And some of these problems were left unsaid. The sadness might have been unmentioned but not unaddressed. At least, not amongst friends. Besides, this is what friends do. This is what it meant to be “Boys.”
We might not have known all the details about each other, but still, we knew enough. These were our problems. This was our town. These were our friends and dare I say it, even the assholes and the derelicts, even the knuckleheads and the hoodlums, even the losers and the wannabes or call them what you will, still, they were ours. Good or bad, rich or poor, these were our friends and these were the kids we grew up with. We might have argued. We might have fought. But either way, we accepted each other.
I come across old movies from my past. They remind me of us. None of us were rich or poor. We were only alive. We were trying to find out what it means to live, or try, or to dare, or run around and scream for a little bit. We were absorbed by the different concepts of life. Everything was so new to us then. We were wrapped up in the silly details of things such as looks, popularity and social status. We looked to define life as we saw it. We wanted to find where we fit. We wanted to define our best life possible and moreover, we wanted to do this without parental supervision.
I come across these triggers of nostalgia. I see them detonate an avalanche of memory. For example, whenever I smell the honeysuckles from a honeysuckle bush, I am immediately transported to a memory of my town. I think about summertime. I think about the sound of cicadas in the trees. And what an ugly bug they are, loud as ever, chattering in the trees and somehow finding a sound of unison with the summer winds.
I remember a quiet morning alone. I was thinking of course. I was finding myself in a strange sense of reflection. I don’t know why or how this began nor how this ended. I remember finding myself in the understanding that life is slow, eventual. People live. People move. People come and then they go. I understood this. Perhaps, my quandary was how do we make this more tolerable?
Maybe this is some of the shadows from my past. Perhaps this is nothing more than an old chemical response or, maybe this is my way of reliving a different time of my life.
I like this idea.
I like the idea of dialing back into my old, mental rolodex, which too, is another outdated term. I suppose I am somewhat outdated as well. I am now like the older generation from when I was young; out of touch, out of reach from modern technology, outdated and antiquated, or perhaps, I am too harsh.
I once swore that I would never grow old. I made a pact. Call this a promise or an agreement of sorts. I made a pledge that I would never allow myself to become so complicated or serious.
I swore to this.
I never wanted to be consumed by job titles or submit to the professional hierarchy. I swore, this rebellion of mine would last forever. I would forever be this kid — this long haired rebel, this man, this young breed, too resilient to adhere to rules and too eager, too hungry, and too impenetrable to conform or to be compete with the Jones’s next door.
The fire in me could not be doused nor could my thirst be quenched. I was neither jaded or tired. I had other challenges. I had other vices and habits, which were draining me. I was confused at times. I was worried about my tricks and my performances. I was worried to know if I would or would not reach the next level of the game. I wondered if I would ever be considered beautiful. I wondered if I’d make it in the real world (if there was such a thing).
Springtime has sprung. I find myself in the midst of a thousand memories as well as a thousand inconsistencies. In fact, life itself is somewhat of a contradiction of terms. Life, meaning youth, meaning our young adulthood, adulthood, middle-aged life, and then to the inevitable elderly reflections and memories of our prime.
Perhaps I have told you this before. Maybe I haven’t. Maybe this is me reaching out to you in a way to say, “Hey, I remember.” I remember the beach. I remember the nights on the Turnpike. I remember “The Stores.” I remember Prospect Pool and the kids who we used to hang around with. I remember the last time I saw everyone at the same place. We were at a somewhat quasi-unofficial reunion. We were adults and yet, I could still see the kid in us. There was a recognizable glimpse in the eye. This was the last time I saw Lavelle. We talked for a while. Perhaps I would have said more if I knew this would be the last time we spoke. I can say the same about Hanson too and Brett as well.
Funny though . . .
I was somewhat of an outcast in my youth. I was not what most considered to be popular. I was well-known, perhaps; however, what I was known for was not something to be proud of. Maybe my recollections are inaccurate. Or, maybe the sentiment is something pure enough to allow me to recognize this: Yes, I lived. I can say this wholeheartedly. I lived. I made mistakes. I laughed and I cried. I made it far beyond any limitation that was set for me, including my own.
I suppose what I miss is the connection. I miss the times when everyone was in the same place. All of our friends, together again, —know what I mean? It was as if we owned the world. And we did own it. We owned our own little piece of this. No matter what, no one can ever take this away.
I say this is good.
This is enough to let me say that when I reach my final moment; when my life flashes before my eyes, at least I’ve given myself something wild to look at.
I hope you feel the same way.