It can happen to anyone. An old song on the radio. A flash of someones face. A stray memory that emerges from the dusty corners of your mind and pulls the corners of your mouth into a smile.
Suddenly you think about those sun-drenched Wednesdays, lounging in the quad with limbs that fell over each other, recounting bad dates and they seem all too long ago. The bronze of your skin, not drenched in adulthood, sleeves rolled up to soak up the warmth. That smile on your face, so unburdened by a future that’s pressing down on you now from every direction.
It was a weird time for everyone, but it made sense. Friday morning classes, red-eyed and tousle-haired, where you’d dart through the hallways and pray nobody would pick you up for wearing Thursdays shirt. There were a pile of books in hand but you didn’t pay all that much attention to them. I mean, there were things you’d learn from them, sure, but it was more about being there. About being around those people – learning there was more to the world than those picket fences, familiar street signs that were so keen on calling you home whenever you seemed to close to slipping away.
And then you’d be driving home late at night, tearing down the freeway, and white dots on the road were bursting around you like stars exploding across a sudden midnight. That’s when it would suddenly occur to you – that things were happening precisely because they were supposed to.
So you’d put an old Jack Johnson album on, let one hand drift away from the wheel and you’d soak it all up. As much as your two-decade old self would allow. I mean sure, you were in a car, but outside that car there was this entire universe. There were stars that tore the sky open over you, and they stretched on into their own forever, whatever that meant. If you opened your window, even just a crack, warm Spring air would roll in and the night would become a part of you, folding you into its fabric. You’d let it. You’d welcome the peace it brought in with it.
Sometimes life lets you sit comfortable in a little pocket of the universe, where familiar sights and sounds shape the lights and color. Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. It can be nice to understand. Sometimes the unfamiliar catches you unaware, taking your hand and leading you somewhere new. That’s a good thing too.
Harrison Cartwright thinks that sometimes it’s just as important to look back as it is to look forward. Follow his ramblings on Twitter here.