I just spent the last hour flipping through pictures all the way back to my Sophomore year at university. I’m not sure why. I have 100,000 other things I could be doing, should be doing. But, I was starting to pack some boxes for my upcoming move. Packing inevitably leads me to sorting through everything, and I found all these pictures – all these pictures of me from various stages of my life. Some of them don’t even look like me. Some of them seem like they’re from a lifetime ago or even from someone else’s life.
Almost all of them made me want to cry.
I’m usually not one for tear-jerker nostalgia, but tonight… man. I’d probably give just about anything to go back to some of those moments – not to change them or do them over, just to be there again, to experience those moments once again for the first time, to remember what it all felt like.
Sometimes I miss it so much it hurts – everything my undergraduate experience was. There are definitely decisions I made and repercussions I experienced that I wouldn’t want to repeat and that, if I’d been wiser back then, I never would have made. But, I know better than to mess with time. I wouldn’t change them, just maybe take the option to learn the lesson without the pain. Guess that’s not really what life is all about though. It’s more about finding the beauty in the pain – despite of the pain? One of those. I guess the second option makes me sound less like a masochist, so let’s just go with that one.
But then, there are those moments I feel like I could live in forever, those times when everything just falls away and you feel infinite, untouchable. Maybe I’ve been reading too much of The Perks of being a Wallflower.
Then again, maybe not.
I never felt like one of those kids who had all these grand moments in my life. That always seemed so contrived to me, but the more I think about it, my life is just a series of moments, like anyone else’s.
The best thing about pictures is not the moments they capture, I don’t think, but the way the ones they do remind you of all the ones they didn’t, and can’t, and never will. I think those are the ones I’d really want to revisit if I could. All those moments right in between the flashes of the camera – the ones leading up to them, the ones immediately after.
Like the time I spent an entire afternoon riding the campus shuttle around and then getting Twilight-zone lost in a neighboring housing community during a thunderstorm with the people who were slowly but surely becoming my best friends.
Or the time I found the courage to Facebook message that guy in my American lit class whom I recognized from my English lit survey the previous semester – you know, that guy who’s still one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
Even the time I spent an entire semester making t-shirts for 80+ dancers to wear on one night or the time I scared myself half to death when a squirrel got stuck in my dorm room wall after my friends made me watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
There was also that time I sacrificed one of my tank tops to Oscar, the infamous gator of Lake Claire, so he’d let us pull our kayak to shore or the time I met some guy I barely knew in the middle of a park during a rainstorm just to see what this “hammock” fad was all about.
The time I hosted an RA wine party in my apartment and had to carry some of my co-workers home, and the time my best friend and I sought out green fairies that we never found.
The times I spent staring at stars with the first person I wasn’t afraid to open up to or the time my friends and I tried to break into the telescope at the campus planetarium.
I’d go back to any of those times.
Or the one when I met a guy who talked to a stuffed fish, a guy who wanted nothing but to strip, and a guy who ate at least his body weight in french fries all in one night at a twenty-four-hour taco restaurant.
Or any one of 900 Moe’s Mondays… and then Thursdays.
Even the time I almost got attacked by a crazy girl with an umbrella and a terrible case of the munchies.
Someone might ask what all these seemingly random moments have in common.
The thing is they really don’t have anything… except freedom. These were the moments I truly felt infinite, and they’re the ones I’d go back to in a heartbeat if I could.
But, maybe the best thing about them is that I can’t go back. Maybe if I could, they’d be different somehow because I’m different somehow.
I guess the real beauty of these moments is that they were exactly what I needed exactly when I needed them. And, I guess the best part is that that will never change.