I didn’t know you. You didn’t know me. We had just met, we weren’t destined to be friends forever or even remember each others names. We were strung together by the same desire to make others happy, at this point you only wanted to make one girl happy, and I was making sure you were good enough for her.
It’s midnight in Wildwood, the ocean breeze whirls and curls outside our window. The three room condo is illuminated by the moon shining in from the cracks in the blinds. You were in one bedroom, my mom in the other, and me and her in the third. Everyone else was asleep but you needed someone. You got up and creeped over to me, careful not to make a sound, and asked,
“Do you want to go for a walk?”
I peeled my eyes open and nodded. Together we tip toed out of the condo. The air was brisk outside, but not too cold to make me want to leave. I forgot my shoes, and so did you. We stood on the white concrete floor, little bits of left over sand and sweat seeping into our cold skin. We stood there for a moment, not entirely sure what to say or do. Eventually I took a step down to the stairs, and whispered to you,
We grasped the railing as we walked down the three flights of gaping stairs. In between each step we could see the pool water below us. Swishing, and swirling, softly with the wind. It glistened under the stars.
We walked to the beach in silence, looking up at the beautiful sky. Trudging along to where the ocean met the land. Where sand got stuck under our toenails, and the salty wind swept our hair. There was no one around, it felt like the beach was ours. We climbed onto the lifeguard stand and looked out to the sea. We breathed in the stiff air, tasting the entire ocean floor. No words were spoken. I was safe in our silence. The sounds of the beach becoming our conversation. Every once in awhile the waves we crash along the shore and spit suds at our feet, but I didn’t care, I was too busy sharing this little moment with someone I would never see again.
And I never did see him again. Only in passing, or through a friend of a friend. But that was okay. We changed as people and went on to lead different lives. Some might feel sad about moving on and forgetting people from their past, but the past doesn’t have to be bittersweet. Growing up is a given, you’re friends and interests will cycle and change again and again, but change can be good. When I reflect on my past memories, I don’t feel sad knowing my life's different now, I’m happy that it happened. Many people struggle with this concept of living in the past. And I used to do it too, I would daydream about what could have been, but it got me nowhere. I became addicted to wishing to change the past that I didn’t live in the present. When I first started high school, I absolutely hated it. I shut myself off and I rejected everything new. I didn’t want to accept that this was my new reality. I would sit in class, my hands on the tan, tables, my feet tapping the dirty tiles and my mind stuck in my old life. I was trapped, I would only hang out with my old friends and brush off opportunities to make new ones. And in this time in my life, I was unhappy. High School is supposed to be a chance to start over, but I was clinging to a life I no longer had.
But how is clinging to the past different from being afraid of the future? We reminisce in old friends and memories from our childhood because we think it makes us remember a happier time. But does this make us happy?, or do we just want to recede back to a time when we had no worries. When our only responsibility was to be a kid. To a time where everything was done for us and the future was only in make believe. We don’t connect back to the past for fun - but for comfort. When we experience change our immediate response is to reject it and fall back to when we were comfortable. Whether that comfort comes from family or from a toxic environment, we crave familiarity no matter how harmful it is to us. And I was just like this too. I covered myself up, and pretended to be someone I wasn’t, as I simmered in the fear of my new environment.
We are all scared. Scared for the future, scared for the present, scared of ourselves. We hide away from change when we should embrace the unknown. You don’t know how long you’re going to be afraid, so if instead of pushing it away, you enjoyed the moment and enjoyed the chance to try something new - maybe we could all feel safe in the silence.