Nostalgia – the feeling can be all encompassing…tapping on your brain via smell, sight, sound, or otherwise, causing you to feel… well, young-er.
Young…as in fitting into skinny jeans, young. Young…as in when the wind blows my hair flows, young. Young…as in, I am on top of the world and IT IS MY OYSTER, young.
As the years passed by and these things now hold less true, nostalgia seems to creep in more frequently.
A few of weeks ago, my husband and I were invited to attend a last minute, 20 year anniversary celebration of my best friend’s wedding. It was nothing big or fancy, just a bunch of “whoever can make its” meeting up at a bar on a Tuesday night. With three children, we were barely able to make time to squeeze out of the house, but somehow we did.
We showed up promptly on time, with a poorly wrapped gift in hand. To be honest, I had not really given the evening that much consideration. Simply a quick drink to say, “Hey, sooo glad you made it 20 years. We love you both, and hope to see you again before the end of the year.” I certainly didn’t expect anyone beyond my small circle of friends to be in attendance.
Imagine my surprise when I looked up from stowing my cell phone in my pocketbook, to a scene that was reminiscent of an average afternoon in high school. Well, kind of.
There, staggered around the bar, stood a group of about 15 guys and girls, huddled in all the same groups I remembered from the halls of our high school days.
My girlfriends of about 40 years were gathered in a small circle, chatting and giggling, while looking over small phone screens at pictures of each other’s children. The scene felt somewhat familiar – if I closed my eyes, it could easily have been twenty-five years earlier. Only then, instead of cellphones, we might have been huddled over a passed triangular-shaped folded note, spreading the latest gossip.
A group of guys, a few years ahead of me in school, stood next to the bar, each with their very own casual lean and stance. They were all laughing deeply at old stories from our youth. I was taking it all in…reflecting, remembering.
This was when it happened – I traveled back. The details began to flood in. In my mind, we were suddenly all younger – a bunch of dumb kids in high school standing in the dingy hallway. There seemed to be miles of tan lockers running down each side of that hall. You were lucky if you got one that didn’t have rusty corners and fist marks.
We were in different clothes then; clothes that fit differently, hung on our frames, were cuffed and folded in the style of our youth. I remember the brands distinctly – Benetton, Au Cotton, Beverly Hills Club, Ton Sur Ton, Z Cavaricci. We were the younger versions of ourselves in those clothes.
We all had bigger, thicker hair, whiter teeth, and smoother skin. Our bellies laid flat inside the waistline of our saggy jeans. We carried backpacks laden with books; big heavy textbooks with outlined pages and dog-eared corners. Those old books were either in good, fair, or poor condition based on our objective opinion on the first day of school when they were handed to us.
I remembered the way the sun shown through the window and dispersed itself down the hallway. Warming rays that fell across our feet, perhaps letting us know it was time for our mothers to bleach our all white leather sneakers. The halls were booming with conversation, whistling calls, shoulder slaps, and high fives. And just like that, the sound of the passing bell would ring and would instantly clear the crowded scene that I had a long ago committed to a memory.
And now, here we were again. This time, we were forty-somethings at a bar.
We weren’t fussing over our looks at this time in our lives. Or were we? Maybe, but not with the same high expectations of perfection.
We were seemingly sharing our successes with the people around us. Finding commonality in who we knew and what we did. Or could it be we were still comparing?
Maybe we were just escaping the mundane of our Tuesday to come out and celebrate the two people we all collectively knew.
He was the senior guy who married the sophomore girl. They were the beauty queen and the quarterback. I looked closely at them. Were they still the guy who scored the touchdowns and the girl that everyone loved? Yes, for sure they were.
Thirty years later, and we were all the kids we used to be. Our bodies and faces were older. We were wearing more mature clothes. The bags we carried were now lighter without books weighing them down.
I was happy to be there, at this unexpected reunion. I was comfortable being with the people I had known for most of my life. It brought me right back to a happy, carefree time.
We had all changed somewhat over the years, but as I looked at the scene, I realized we are all still just a bunch of dumb kids trying to figure out how to get older. It was so nice, if only for the night, to be figuring it out together again.
Melissa Giordano is a lover of music and yoga. She is forever chasing handstands and classic love songs. She most enjoys being surrounded by friends and family, and sharing memories. She dares to dream, because most of them have already come true.