I’m too young to be nostalgic; I know this, I’m not stupid. But these past few days have been messing with my head a little. So many familiar scenes: matinee movies at surf and sand; meeting the parents for dinner out after work; getting up in p.j.’s to drive Dad out to the base and listening to Fresh Air on the ride home; meeting at the dairy queen on colley avenue for a night out in ghent, our evening’s plans stymied because (as always) I’m underage; early nights driving home alone.
Tonight, at 2:00 am, leaving Kempsville and Mandi’s house in the rusty Caravan, listening to classic country with the window rolled down, singing shamelessly as I let my hair down in true 80’s movie fashion to blow in the wind on a warm, almost sticky Virginia Beach summer night that is classic to Hampton Roads. I had to check myself several times on the once familiar roads, the exits on and off of highway 264, and make sure the long unused synapses in my brain that used to steer me home without thinking were functioning properly. In a moment of hideously trite coincidence, I flipped the radio over to my other favorite station only to find the song “Save Tonight” now coming out of the blown-out speakers of the van. ‘Fight the break of dawn…for tomorrow I’ll be gone. I wish that I, that I could stay’ it said to me, as I cruised home, the memory of one last big hug for Mandi before she left for Blacksburg in the morning still fresh in my mind. Excuse me, could I be in a bad episode of Felicity from sophomore year of high school, please? Give me a break people. Somebody up there must have a sick sense of humor to bestow such situational irony on me. I get the joke.
Heat lightning flashing overhead, I decide that I’m better off with 80’s country that reminds me of a time far away enough to be blurry. I’m in no hurry to get home; this is pretty tame for a night out on the town: dinner at 219 with my family, a late showing of Seabiscuit at the mall, and then a quick goodbye over late-night television. Exactly like every other Friday night of my formative years in Va Beach, that’s what’s odd.
Only tonight, when I drove home, instead of waxing melodramatically over that boy that was never going to realize I wanted to be more than his friend, I calmly enjoyed the soundtrack to my life. I wasn’t crying over the realization that I’d have to go back to school on Monday and deal with the people that either I’d yelled at or had mocked me the week before, none of that crap this time, just a bit of a sigh remembering how long it’s been since the Three Witches have been in the same city for more than a day or two. I come home, listening to Ani Difranco as in days of yore, but instead of a mix tape made by an acquaintance in well-meaning pity (old school acoustic Ani) after seeing my frustrated bitterness, now I’ve got a CD acquired by chance from a new friend. On my run this afternoon as I passed by the club soccer tryouts at the field in my neighborhood and remembered doing the same thing years ago: watching the U-17 and U-18 boys’ teams for a glimpse of my crush. Tonight I jogged by a little slower than I used to in high school when I was in shape. As the sun set, I found myself casually checking out the coach instead.
I would call all these moments regressive flashbacks, but they’re not. They’re strange doppelgangers of moments that happened a while ago, but softer than I remember them, less aggressive and hurtful. As I go through the same routines, the ones that used to comfort me still do (I’ll always consider the cookbook section of Barnes and Noble one of my favorite evening haunts…I’m all about those couches), and the ones that used to make me want to run far far away from here don’t irritate me so much. There’s a sort of peace that I’ve made with this city, an understanding that we’ve agreed upon. It doesn’t fuck with me too much, and I agree to not to try and make it something that it’s not. We’ve grown up a little, seen some new people, and done our own thing for a while.
The cat climbs into my lap to try and push my fingers away from the keys as she settles down, but instead of urgently displacing her because I can’t type fast enough to compete with jumbled angry thoughts, I endulge the formerly fat furball and scratch her head for a while as I pluck away with one finger on the keyboard. She knows that she doesn’t have to comfort me tonight, and will wait around in the hallway until I’m ready to crawl into bed. Speaking of which, I shouldn’t keep her waiting too long–don’t want her to get pissed.