We sat at the Lakeview, two of my oldest friends and I, reminiscing over hot drinks.
“I’m so glad that we hung out,” one of them says between sips of creamy hot chocolate.
Two days later, I found myself walking around my old, familiar haunts. Tuesday night in Kensington Park—now it’s filled with the fire poi spinners, and the people you probably would buy weed from, if you weren’t already made skittish by the night-time. Here’s where I had my first sips of illegal outdoor gin. Where I met my longest high school relationship, where I used to come in the winter time to sip scalding hot lattes that I’d cobbled together lint stuck pocket change to pay for. Nowadays, I feel uneasy coming here. An almost-lover lives less than a block away from here, and there’s always the fear that when you hang out in someone’s neighbourhood, they’ll start to think you’re stalking them. But I was here first, we were here first, and that’s the thing I keep telling myself when I’m walking around the market, skinny cigarette in hand, carefully staring at my feet with each tread.
It’s funny what happens to us when we come back to those old familiar spaces. I wouldn’t necessarily call it nostalgia, but maybe it is nostalgia. The Portuguese have a word for it: saudade. Described by A.F Bell (and interestingly enough, lifted from Wikipedia, which baby writerleens, is something you must promise me never to do), “”…vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist…a turning towards the past or towards the future.”
It’s a longing to return to the smiles, and the laughter. Maybe even the tears. Because everything is imbued with a certain purity when it’s safely centered in your mind’s eye, it becomes a little safer to experience it all over again.
A lot of people say that your teenage years are the best years of your life (note: they also say this about college, your twenties, and your golden years, so I’m unsure if it’s in fact that your entire life is “the best years of your life,” or whether they’re blatantly lying to cover up the fact that throughout those times you’ll be pimply, poor, or suffering from severe bouts of incontinence…sooooo….) , and I guess in a way they sort of are. You don’t really have anything holding you back. Well, you might, but because everything is heightened by love and punk rock, you feel that for just an instant you can capture that unbearable weightlessness that everyone keeps talking about.
You’ll make the friends that’ll define an era for you. You’ll listen to the bands, and read the books that’ll refine you. You’ll get into scrapes and discover small pockets of strength that you thought you never had–and when shit hits the fan, as it inevitably does, you’ll either find a will to live that you didn’t think existed when you were crying on subways in the wintertime; or your found family will be the buoy that will help you keep your head above water. You’ll make art with these people, you’ll memorize equations with them–play sports, have spontaneous fits of creativity, you’ll have tearful fights, you’ll swear that you’ll never speak to some of them again. You’ll kiss them, break their hearts, they’ll break your heart, you’ll hold them closer than you ever thought you could hold another person. Those alleyways, park benches, and wherever else you go, they’ll become like a heartbeat; they’ll keep you alive, even if you forget their importance after a while.
Moments and experiences rarely ever reoccur, if only to make space for the new ones, but you’ll always have a few on hand if you need them. If possible, you can revisit those places and those people from time to time, you can remember the roots that you’ve firmly planted. No matter how much you’ve changed, no matter how much you think you may have fucked up, no matter where you go, it is possible to go home again: even if it’s just for a minute in your head.
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