1. Having friends who text you to find out how you’re doing when you’re going through a really difficult relationship moment. (You know, the texts you see while waiting for “your person” to text you, the ones that make you throw your phone across the room and hate your friends for trying to talk to you.)
2. The nights where you stay up late with your hometown friends, doing the same thing you always do, drinking beer and hanging out in the same places. The nights where you turn to each other and talk about how you can’t wait to grow up, and get out, and forget about this boring town.
3. Having grandparents who call you to find out what you’re doing, and are super interested even when absolutely nothing interesting is happening, who are incredibly excited just to be having you on the phone for a while.
4. Not knowing what to do with the pathetic little check you got from your first job, because there are about 80 things you want and zero you can actually afford, and you know you sure as hell aren’t going to put it away to save up for something reasonable. (No judgment on the percentage of it that ended up going to candy and Slurpees, that money was sacred.)
5. Knowing your little neighborhood restaurant by heart, and having the owner know exactly what you’re going to order the minute you walk in the door.
6. The cashiers, servers, baristas, and salespeople throughout your day who always make an effort to get to know you, and to treat you like valued friends instead of just some nameless customer. It’s insane how much their kindness can change an entire day.
7. The way it feels when someone tells you that you are beautiful for the first time, and you don’t know how to respond, so you turn away and look at the ground because you can’t quite accept that anyone would compliment you in such a way and really mean it.
8. A class with a really good teacher whose skill and kindness you aren’t fully able to appreciate while sitting in their class because you’re just a stupid teenager who wants to get out of school at any cost.
9. Listening to music that you would soon look back on as completely cheesy and terrible, playing it as loud as possible in your car with your friends’ hands hanging out the window.
10. The summers that used to drag on before everyone was going to go off in different directions, when the heat was particularly hot because it was meant to stifle you and keep you from where you really wanted to be going.
11. Afternoons spent on AIM with friends, talking about crushes and perfecting your away messages to be the perfect mix of coy and enticing. (No combination of emo lyrics and illegible fonts are too outlandish for the cause.)
12. Awkward attempts to hold hands in the movie theater when no one wants to make the first move or seem like they really “like like” the other person, but everyone knows that you both want to hold hands. (And the unparalleled thrill that ensues when you actually touch fingers for the first time and realize that, yes, this is really happening.)
14. Being able to run downstairs like clockwork and have a homecooked meal put in front of you, as your mom reminds you to wash your hands for the tenth time this week and you plot your move for the drumstick before anyone else gets to it.
15. The crippling feeling of anticipation that would lead up to every childhood Christmas, the feeling that you would literally explode if you didn’t peek at your presents while everyone else was sleeping. (No one was fooled by the terribly-applied patches of Scotch tape on the previously-perfect package, by the way.)
16. Having someone who will actually take the cereal box out of your hands when you have eaten three-quarters of it in one sitting and have no intentions of stopping, telling you to slow down because otherwise, you will get a tummyache.
17. The days where you would run around in circles with a stick, talking to animals. When you tell your friends to come meet by something as vague and yet as precisely descriptive as “the big tree” and you know without a doubt that they are going to show up (and not text you some terrible, last-minute excuse about how they have a really bad migraine and just can’t make it right now).
18. Kisses that last so long you feel like your whole mouth is going to fall off and you can no longer feel the vast majority of your face.
19. The red-cup drinking nights where you cheer each other on during beer pong and secretly hope that you’ll all get just enough of a buzz to do and say the things you are so desperately afraid of when sober (but want so badly).
20. Sneaking around to do things that are made all the more fun and magical because of the sneaking-around part.
21. The inexplicable feeling that, even though you have no idea where you are going or what you want to do when you grow up, everything is going to work out exactly the way it needs to and you can only be pleasantly surprised by the results.