I should’ve been born in the eighties, with just enough time to spend my sixteenth summer snapping shots from the Polaroid camera around my neck.
I’d clack typewriter keys. I’d yank the kitchen phone cord all the way to the coat closet where I would bury myself beneath a New York Mets varsity jacket and stacks of filtered and textured peeling photo albums from the seventies.
From there, I wouldn’t be able to see the ways I’d failed the world. There would be no Facebook to measure my significance. There would be no instant gratification.
To kiss someone would be to wait a lifetime to come alive. To hear the phone ring and round the corner and slide in my socks and skid into the dinner table with my hipbone and, shaky and out of breath, pray for someone sweet and special on the other end of the lines stretching down my street and up the road and through the winding hills that lead to someplace altogether new.
To live in that world would be to know anticipation so tense it threatens to distract your every waking moments. To know another’s thoughts in that world would be a privilege.
We would not be able to like another’s sorrow or share another’s first kisses or last kisses or first steps. Movies would reside in dusty cameras shoved in the closet. Books would be recommended over cups of coffee atop porch steps.
To run would be the only way to see our neighbors’ intimate lives: the old man next door hobbling down his driveway with a steaming mug in one hand and a bath robe swooshing between his slippered feet, his untamed hair and unshaven face greeting your out-of-breath, red puffed cheeks, your cowlicks and wisps curling at the nape of your neck.
You would have no Instagram filters to recolor the whiteness of your legs, the spots on his balding head, the drained pigment of his face, his frail wife half-alive on the rocking chair, her days numbered and heart unsteady.
It would be okay like that. Life would be okay like that.