The thing is, that night (part one) doesn’t even feel like it was last year, the moments come to me in tidbits of flashbacks here and there. When I’m brushing my teeth, or reaching for a jacket from the closet, but they’re fleeting and none of the moments really stick. What I remember more closely, though it was five years ago now, is the November of the year I turned twenty. It’s what I thought about when I listened to Jack’s Mannequin on my way to work this week.
Three Guinness in and a broken hot-glue gun preventing me from my original plan of arts and crafts, along with Jack’s Mannequin (what else?) Pandora station streaming through the Roku box, leads me here…
It didn’t occur to me until about 3 o’clock this afternoon what it was the anniversary of. Well duh, you could pick plenty of dates from life and say it’s the anniversary of blahblahblah.
Veteran’s Day, sophomore year of college, Phi Tau had an ABC party. (ABC stands for Anything But Clothes.) Larry invited me to go with him. Leah and I were wandering the aisles of Walmart, playing dress up with hunting gear and admiring the oddly early display of Christmas decorations. We were walking to the parking lot when I got the message and didn’t know quite what to do, Leah was like umm obviously you should go this is gonna be the best! And it was. We made matching Transformer’s pillow case dresses. It was November so we wore black leggings. The party was at Chubby’s. Those were are old stomping grounds. It was an incredibly eventful and exciting evening. One of my favorite memories from college. She was right, it was the best. What I remember the most, is all the laughing. The cohesiveness of a tight-knit group of friends. Togetherness. And the dancing. I, Meghan, actually danced. (Well, if you can call it dancing…but hey.) Plenty of happenings that caught me totally off guard…happened. Confused but happy, which is basically a constant combination of emotion in your teenage years you know? You’re one or the other or both but rarely ever neither. We ran down the hill on the way home. It was freezing and none of us noticed, as we fought over who got to carry the trident to the Natty Light case king costume. Eventually we made it back after much chaos in the courtyard. I remember standing in the stairwell, I came across the boy I had the biggest crush on. The one who hadn’t gone that night because he had to study for a test. We chatted. He offered to give me a ride home. I could tell you the exact shade of the glow in his eyes that night, in this very moment. I didn’t go home, we had a giant sleepover and Larry broke his foot walking into the TV that night, and I harshly told him not to be a baby. How was I supposed to know he really hurt himself? The next day began like most of my favorite times in life. I love nothing more than awaking in a room surrounded by my best friends.
That was Monday.
About a lifetime passed between Monday and Friday. Friday was another party we made our way to. It was a rare occasion for all of my favorite people to be in the same place at once. Usually my girls were a bit more scattered. We were convinced it was our last night of fun together before Lizzi had new responsibilities, we hadn’t quite figured out what to make of yet. This only led us to believe this should be a full out night of celebration. And celebrate we did.
It was about a week before I left my teenage years. Twenty doesn’t have a lot of jazz to it because you’re still remarkably far away from twenty-one, but you’re starting to sound old, and you lose the right to blame things on being a teenager (whether or not you ever did.) I made a certain wish back then, and to my surprise that wish was granted. It’s the only wish I remember making that actually came true. This is saying a lot because if you tallied all of my blown candle, penny in a fountain, 11:11, superstitious, eyes-closed tight, more like a prayer wishes over the years they were probably in the hundreds. While I was on top of the world at the time, over the moon ecstatic at this mounting potential of a turn in things, it only made the impact of the crash to reality harder. It was simultaneously the best and worst birthday present ever, (though it happened weeks before my birthday.) It seemed like a secret gift the universe bestowed to me, and that I relished its greatness in silence on the inside for days. I could still rattle off every detail of those moments. The Hollister hooded jacket with fur trim, Mandy let me borrow while we got ready last night. The necklace I was wearing my parents had given me as a birthday present for my 18th birthday. How my hair was straighter and softer than it ever is in regular life. Us convincing Tiffany she wasn’t too old to hang out with us at this party, and it was going to be the most fun ever. I could tell you about the spray paint, or wandering around the back deck. I could tell you about running into an older girl I always admired for her elegance and grace. The way she made you feel special in a three minute conversation. I could tell you about the point my life transitioned to a slow-motion clock when that wish came true. The seconds just ticked by at a screeching halt as if the universe was begging me to absorb every bit of the moment. I could tell you about the fight that broke out behind us, or the nosey girl who interrupted, or the ruckus in the bushes, and the sound of one of my girl friend’s cell phone’s shattering into pieces as it hit the sidewalk. I could tell you of the intense stare and the way I probably couldn’t have uttered my name in those seconds. But all of that chaos didn’t really affect my freeze-frame moment of time. It’s kind of like a world within a world, and this is why I’m convinced that for a split second the universe came to a halt. How else could I explain the pause button on life?
It doesn’t take a genius to know that some of the worst pain comes when we break our own hearts. The let down I experienced came from a fall I set myself up for, and can’t be blamed on someone else. It all depends on the way you spin it. You can look at it from this dark angle where all my wishes forever, (drama queen much?) are cursed and better left unmade, or see the opportunity this situation provided. Most of the time, if I interrogate myself I wonder if given the choice, would I make this same wish again, knowing the outcome? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s probably better for me not to mess with fate.
What I’ll tell you is this, some moments in life are fleeting and disappear fast, before we even register them on our radar. But, what we’re left with (and don’t tell me that I’ve dramatized these memories because I can tell you that I already recognize the pros and cons, they’re lists I’ve made dozens of times) is a lesson to be learned. Maybe I didn’t get to hold onto these wishes come true. At the time they gave me the confidence to step out on a limb I might not have done so without them. That limb might have been shaky, and whether or not that was a positive or negative decision is negotiable, BUT I don’t have to wonder. Another version of me, wouldn’t have ventured on the limb and I’d be sitting here five years later wondering what if? And now I know. Now, I know what kind of moments are capable of existing. We shouldn’t live lives void of passion, I can tell you that. People I’ve encountered along the years think I’m foolish that such emotions aren’t accessible, that it’s silly to expect to feel those butterflies down the line, that anyone could ignite such a flurry of emotion. Well, they’re wrong. And we’re selling ourselves short when we agree to settle for anything less.
So, maybe I caused myself some tears. Maybe I still have the ability to get all upset over it if I get too nostalgic and philosophical later, but on a really deep level I’m thankful for all of the experiences. I never want to be disconnected from the ability to feel things on a real and raw level. The kind that lets you know you’re perfectly alive for all it’s worth in the good and the not so good. I have these moments, and some similar to thank for reminding myself what I want out of life at times. Sometimes, we wander too far down a road and get confused. Sometimes these moments come to me in dreams and I’m reminded of the intensity of great things in life and not to comprise and take the mundane because it’s there. Leah and I just had a good reminiscent moment texting about these days, and I’m not the only one who recognized the beauty of the times of our lives when we were dizzy with the promise of potential.