I miss being five years old.
The lines hadn’t been drawn yet. Any friend seemed a friend for life, every tear was quickly wiped and it didn’t matter if we colored inside the lines, the drawing was always hung on the wall. I also miss twelve and realizing that there is such a thing as too much eyeliner. I miss being sixteen and sitting in the back seat on a drive that held everywhere and nowhere in equal measure. I miss it all with such surprising depth, that I almost forget at every stage I was already wishing for that next step.
Now I’m at an age that adolescent-me would’ve traded anything to be, but instead of hoping for twenty-five I’m thinking of the nights I spent in basements, or on cold high school bleachers. I rushed through those moments, assuming that everything afterwards would be infinitely better. I spent so much time convincing the world I wasn’t a child, just to realize I hadn’t grown up.
Only now I’m not shirking my youth, I’m embracing it.
I’m still drinking cheap beer talking about where I’ll be in five years with people I know I’ll cherish long after that. This time, instead of fast-forwarding I’m going to take a second to appreciate where I’m at. Every time I wanted to move ahead with my life it was because I couldn’t deal with what was in my way.
Between braces, detention and boys it always seemed the safer route to take was the one where I avoided it all with the teenage hope that once I was older these problems would cease to exist.
For anyone who’s been twenty-one, you know they don’t. A new set of issues just replaces them.
So, now I’m going to take the time to carpe diem. I’m not going to steam-roll my imagination past any of the many mistakes I’ve made. The truth is there’s no need to just blindly wish away my problems with age, or look back and regret not taking advantage of the time I’ve wasted.
We’ve all got regrets that leave their invisible marks on us, like the faintest of scars. But we shouldn’t look at them and cringe with the pain they brought, we should trace these over and remember how much fun we had getting them.
Come May I’ll probably be sporadically submitting emotionally-fraught essays no one really reads, thinking why would anyone not talk me out of a B.A. in English. Or, I’ll be fabulously employed and probably forgetting whatever pseudo-epiphany I’m peddling here.
Either way, for the first time ever I’ve decided not to focus on the always not-so-distant future. I’m going to appreciate that everything seems to be slightly askew right now, so that I will never miss not embracing the awful awesomeness of the here and now.