It was on a sun-filled lazy day that I first realized I could travel back in time. I was cuddling with my best friend on her living room couch, sharing a blanket and oversized portions of teriyaki and personal space the way only best friends can. As I gorged myself on addicting chicken and perfectly cooked rice and succulent beef, the best friend quickly flipped through the mundane programs that comprise daytime television. Channel after channel flashed before our eyes, much like our childhoods, until we came across a movie neither one of us had seen since the days when we still had our youthful optimism and virginity.
Save the Last Dance. I know you remember it.
Every revisited scene and cheesy line and predictable outcome transformed the living room into a middle school gym. The throwback music and the adolescent angst and the awkwardly comfortable combination they both created was as palpable as the lingering smell of our lunches.
Without our control or permission we found ourselves journeying back to a simple time plagued by simple problems found in simple situations and met with simple solutions.
A time when relationships were defined by the bells that summed us in and out of hallways and classrooms.
A time when dates were met with chaperones and curfews and, at best, sweaty palms.
A time when schedules were made by administrators and dinner was made by parents and futures were planned with unabashed dreams and unhinged hopes.
A time when self-worth was found in an earned grade or a popularity bracket or a starting position on a varsity team.
A time when rules were made to be broken and late nights seemed endless and dangerous consequences seemed like impossible outcomes.
A time when our friends were only a bike ride or occupied desk or lunch period away.
A time when we promised forever in back seats and swore we’d never forget in signed yearbooks and actually meant both.
A time when our lives seemed void of expiration dates and our hearts seemed indestructible and the world was as understandable as our freshman orientation packets.
A time when we wore clothes that now evoke cringing and listened to music that now creates longing and sported hairstyles that now leave us wondering what in the fuck we could have possibly been thinking.
A time both of us were once so relentlessly eager to leave behind.
A time we had now found ourselves desperately and hopelessly and nostalgically craving to relive. If only for the fleeting remainder of the film.
Of course we had overlooked traumatic instances and less-than-perfect childhoods and the annoying lack of freedom that at the time we completely despised. Sure we had recreated pasts by painting over the smudges and filling the cracks and taping together the broken edges, leaving behind the perfect picture of adolescence.
But we had also taken a collective and unified and very necessary breath of fresh, stressless, simplistic air. We had vacationed from overdue bills and failed relationships and the unending pressures of somehow becoming happy and successful members of a society we’re constantly trying to understand.
We had recharged our reserve and refilled our determination and fondly remembered a time when our lives seemed as simple as sunbathing on an 80 degree day.
I finally left my best friend’s house that day feeling optimistic, hopeful, and sure. I left feeling ten years younger and twenty six years wiser.
And I left looking forward to the day when I would cuddle with my best friend on a nursing home couch, sharing a blanket and oversized portions of easily digestible food and personal space the way only best friends can, to once again travel back in time to the days like the one I just had.