Do you have a song that flashes you back to another, different, perhaps better (or I guess worse, but I avoid those) time in your life? There are many songs that do this for me. For a long time Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire made me flash back to my ten year old self, learning the lyrics with my sister. Wake Up Little Susie makes me want to jump on my bed while my parents are out of town and my aunt is babysitting. Everybody Hurts ironically reminds me of a time one of my friends betrayed me. The song happened to be popular, and as I was having a teen-angsty breakdown about it, that song came on the radio. Oh, the irony of having a good soundtrack as a teenager. But, hey, at that point I hadn’t given up hope on ALL friends! So in hindsight it’s not such a horrible memory. And Clay Walker’s Then What makes me long for being a waitress at Pizza Hut. Not because I miss the smell of the place or working for $2 an hour plus crappy Pizza Hut tips, but because I was young, naive, and I still remember what a “glottal” is. Good memories. Long gone.
So today I’d like to stop and recognize not one, but many songs that remind me of my youth: Every song (OK, mostly the popular ones) on Matchbox20’s Yourself Or Someone Like You album. When I hear one of those songs, I’m eighteen again. It’s the summer after my senior year of high school and I’m sitting at a friend’s house. Well, her parents’ house, but you know how when you’re eighteen your parents’ house IS your house? Yeah, so in my eighteen year old mind, it’s HER house. And we’re drinking wine coolers. We have that fresh excitement of just finishing high school. Love still exists (and I have my first boyfriend, and sadly, the only person I’ve ever loved – sigh, time’s a bitch). And not only does it exist, it lasts forever! Although boys might be trying to sleep with me, that’s not the only reason they’re trying to be with me. They want that connection. They’re looking for something real, because they haven’t been beaten down by the love machine, yet, either. Cynacism comes with age, my friends.
In this beautiful summer of 1998, the world is full of possibilities. I’m not in college, yet, and my major is emphatically “undeclared.” In fact, when I found out my high school counselor enrolled me as a business major, I threw a fit saying “HE will not be choosing my major. *I* will be choosing my major. And it WON’T be business.” (Flash forward, it was business. Sigh.) As we sat there, drinking wine coolers, the world our oyster, for one summer my life was bliss. We laughed. A lot. Hanging out with one another was the rule, not the exception, as it is now. We embraced loving one another and our young boyfriends like nothing could hurt us. The warm summer air around us, and the limitless hopes of tomorrow.
Man, how I’ve let myself get beat down. And although I’ve tried to figure out how, I don’t think there’s a way to recapture that young, wild, free, hopeful feeling. Because now my friends are married and have children, which means hanging out has to be an exception. We all have debt and jobs and responsibilities weighing us down, giving us worries, and making us “grown ups.” There’s never a night of sitting up as long as we can stay awake (because we’re graduated and finally have no curfew!), drinking calorie-laden drinks but never thinking about the number of calories, and loving and living life with reckless abandon.
But, for a fleeting moment, while I listen to these songs, I can embrace that girl again. I miss her.