My local high school is filled with memories. There are so many, I feel lucky to visit it at least once a week, but not before I look up to the same window on my way to the main entrance, the middle one on the last floor. As I wonder about whether my school mates and everlasting friends think the same thoughts I get a bit blue, because I miss those days. Those perfect and crazy days when we fell in love for the first time and lived through the first hints that we were about to grow up. Now I play volleyball in the same gym I always adored, because I loved gym class the most. Everything seems the same at a glance, except the volleyballs are now locked up. Time seems to have stopped here and the air still smells the same. I get caught up in these moments every Wednesday evening, but with new people who are very close to me and don’t take me too seriously, just the way I like it. This parallel life only takes a few hours, but it means a lot, because I get home tired, but happy, because it’s not just about the game and social aspect, but the fact when I’m in that gym, I’m still only 16, not a day more. I catch these moments of happiness and think about the times when were completely different. I miss the people and the benches in classrooms, even the thick books and the hours I spent in my room with my red table lamp, covered with stickers, an open atlas that showed the USA and the state I later accepted as my own.
We didn’t talk about Vision board technique back then, but thoughts had just as much power. We also didn’t have cell phones, and some may find it hard to believe, but we still talked about everything and actually survived. I had a pink bike that I rode up and down the hill; at first, I thought my lungs were going to burst, but then I got used to it and I liked the woods behind my apartment building, where I walked with Elena every day, where we climbed the trees and ate cherries until the sun set and my mom was going crazy, because she couldn’t figure out where I was. There was so much laughter, foolishnes, I left so much life in those woods and liked looking for witches in the hollow tree trunks. This was my world and now I’m partly reliving it through Sofia’s eyes. At the same time, I feel like I don’t even really miss the people that used to be part of my life, I’d sooner say I miss Myself, the good old Self that was uninhibited and had no scars, which I was able to control somehow and wasn’t hurt by words or events or moments, it was just a part of me and that is how I experienced it. They say that when you miss the good old times, it means that you’re not satisfied with your life at the moment. Or maybe we just expect too much from life and we set our own obstacles, only to complain about the fact the lymph doesn’t flow as it should. I wonder why.
My inner Self keeps whispering new stories and bashfully tells me that people do turn new leaves now and then and that is okay. We make some grudges, we get offended and then we move on. We create some opinions, perhaps not every friend is exactly a friend and not every situation requires us to only stand there and let others whip us with words. Perhaps once you reach 40, you can also turn around and walk away without bothering to explain things too much and without feeling too down, if expectations weren’t fulfilled. Expectations. I’ve read so many times that we shouldn’t have them, we should delete them from our RAM, but they stay hidden inside of us like a dangerous virus that never goes away. And there’s no inoculation. I cling to people that I used to have, because I cling to my old Self and I miss it. It’s like I lost a part of my reflection in the mirror so now I just stare at the empty picture, which still has a frame, but holds nothing significant inside. We must find real passion in life so that the heart keeps making cartwheels, and real moments so that we don’t think too much about the future, because even tomorrow is a big “if” and it just may happen that it never comes.
I collect moments. I collect memories like the tiny white stones I keep running across every summer. They squeak as I walk and I always put them in pockets, and then I find them everywhere: in drawers, in the washing machine, at the bottom of my bag. Each of them wants to be flawless and they’re all my “magic stone”, because “I’ve never seen a more beautiful one”, but at the end of the season I realize how similar they really are and they’re only special in the moment I bend down to steal them from their environment so they can become part of me. I think they lose some of their magic when they arrive at my place, because they no longer have their own story and then even I forget what it was that made them so special. It’s similar with people. Sometimes it’s better if they stay where they are so we can keep them in a positive or at least objective memory for as long as we can. So, if I think about high school again and sitting in the middle window, I know that there were also moments of sadness, fear from homework and professors, immense respect and the wild captivity in a young body that keeps blossoming, wanting to grow up. And yet … I am also enchanted by the flawlessness and perfect absence of any work responsibilities, even though I started working on TV at 16 and I always say that puberty is probably still waiting for me somewhere.
I realize there is no one who could bring back my past. There really isn’t. I am the only one who can do that. And it may well happen that it won’t be as stunningly beautiful as it is in my memories.
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