On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night…
“I love this song”, Wendy said to me as she popped a chip in her mouth.
We were sitting on the deck of our beach share-house, overlooking the ocean. We rented the house every other weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, along with about fifteen other twenty-somethings.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were watching some friends from our house play volleyball with members of the next house on the beach. The air smelled of suntan oil, salt, and alcohol. My best friend and I were lounging in bikinis with our feet up on the railing as we ate barbecue potato chips and drank Snapple Iced Tea (full sugar – not diet).
As Hotel California blared through the speakers in the house, I glanced over at the deck of the next house, just as he walked outside – the adorable guy I was dating and falling very hard for. He waved at me with the cutest smile, and I thought to myself, “Could life get any better than this?” It felt like a perfect moment in time.
Thirty years later, while driving in my mom-style SUV, that Eagles song came on the car radio. I turned the volume up as I smiled. Hotel California always takes me right back to the deck on that beach house.
Life changes as we grow. Jobs get more serious, we get married, have children, buy homes. Those carefree days disappear very quickly. Suddenly, I was a responsible adult with real things to worry about. I look back at my early twenties with such fondness. It was a carefree time.
Life is made up of moments. We tend not to remember weeks, or even full days. It is the little moments that stand out, that cause us to sigh and think fondly about our past. It could be a song, a smell, or the sound of a voice that will take us right back to another place, another time in our lives.
Whether we like it or not, life keeps moving forward. Sometimes changes are not easy; we all have hard times. It is easy to long for what may be remembered as a simpler, easier, or happier time.
Different stages of life have their great moments, as well as hard ones.
Although I have been through a lot in my life, both good and bad, I tend to hang on to the happy memories. I keep them near and dear to me as if they were old friends. They are a comfort to me when times are difficult.
The thing about memories is that they tend to get better with age. The more time goes by, the better we remember them. A few years down the road, what happens today may seem more exciting, or romantic, or happy than it does right now. The present may be a lot better than we think it is.
The Hotel California moment on the beach is a fabulous memory of a fun time, and I love that my mind recreates it every time I hear that classic song, but it is really not indicative of a perfect time in my life.
That summer had its bad moments, I just do not think of them as often. One of my friends was very upset with me over that guy in the next house; she “liked him first”, and made me quite miserable over it. The guy, by Labor Day, blew me off and broke my heart into a million pieces.
Memories make up the tapestry of our lives, and I have some fabulous ones. I also know that the present has some great moments. In the future, when I hear a certain song, I hope to look back on today with just as much fondness.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.