It was the summer of backyard fires and stargazing and being 16.
I want those days back.
We were all so young…And not the kind of young we are right now, the kind making monthly budgets and buying our first cars and apartments. We were the kind of young that came with no conditions or anxieties.
The most fleeting young of all.
It was the most magic of my summers, that summer of being 16. We were the Neighborhood Kids – a force to be reckoned with. There was something in us that was completely and irrevocably happy, for no reason or sake but that there was not a thing in the world to make us feel otherwise.
We came alive every time the warm air cooled itself to evening and the sun tucked itself in behind the tree line, and as the nocturnal stars proudly shed the blue and white quilt they drowsed under.
We came alive.
We were like points on a map, a map of our dead end road, and at night their place of intersection was somewhere in the middle, where the grass met the street pavement.
We’d run from our homes, excited to locate the others like some cluster of stars forming constellations drifting to and from homes and grassy backyards.
We were all stars without knowing it.
And we had no way of knowing our future selves would spend hours scanning the night sky with tired eyes, desperate to locate the anomalies we once were. We had burned too bright, much too fast, then flickered out like single flames on candles that burned too close to the end, flames that felt too comfortable in the breeze to realize that things you love can harm you too. Now we spend too much life looking at stars for answers – all we see is what we once were.
The stars had already extinguished, thousands of years ago.
Have you ever felt this way? Minding your own business on a quite average Wednesday night, then unknowingly glancing out your window to see a dusk sky with a pretty purple glow to it that somehow brings you right back to some moment 7 years ago that couldn’t have been any less important to you as it happened, but somehow means everything now? This is the universe’s way of punching you in the gut, because it forces you to realize you can never know that feeling again. Never be as young, as innocent, as open to love, as invincible as you were in that moment.
That surprisingly hot July…being with friends just as wonderfully naive as I was, sitting around a fire pit with our toes too close to the flames, sharing the same old stories and watching the same old stars we never seemed to grow tired of.
At that age, in that summer, during that beautiful chapter in one’s life, you never feel alone. You always have a buddy by your side, a different sky to see, a new song to play. There was no feeling lonely in a room full of people, like we all feel now. No distractions or addictions necessary to feel whole.
We weren’t running from something.
The sad realization of growing older is this: we’re all running now. Yes, from different things, but still running just the same. And that’s why our memories can sometimes hit us like a ton of bricks; I am reminded that time won’t stop for any goddamn thing.