The shitty thing about the past sometimes is that it's never really in the past.
It lingers. Like a fart in the air. Or maybe something more poetic, I suppose, but I can't really think of it right now.
It creeps up on you in the most unsuspecting moments. Like finding a jungle cat in your laundry room. You turn the corner, minding your own business, and then boom... there it is, growling at you from the spot where you keep your dryer sheets, demanding that you deal with it.
I've felt that way all day. All week, I guess, but more so today.
Sometimes it starts with a picture, or a smell, or a song, or a person. But in that instant, it all comes back to you, carrying with it all the baggage and things you know you should just leave alone because they can't be changed.
Today, I saw a picture, and all I wanted to do was be 21 again. With the friends I had when I was 21. With the same lack of real responsibility. I laughed so much harder and more often when I was 21, it feels. Tonight, I heard a song that made me want to be 17 again. Seventeen and having a crush on a college boy who just wanted to be a cowboy and drink a lot of beer and raise a little hell and look good in a tight pair of jeans. This morning, I got a whiff of my make-up, and I was 8 years old, watching my mom put on her make-up. I never noticed how much my makeup smells like hers. Maybe that's why I continue to buy it and rarely ever use it. But there I was, eight and safe without any knowledge of all the harsh truths I would know someday. Back when I thought she had all the answers and I'd never heard her shed a tear.
Nostalgia, that crafty witch, punched me in the gut, and I've yet to recover today. It left me with a longing in my heart and questions in my mind. Where would I be today if any of those paths had changed? Sometimes, I find myself wishing for all the things that could've been. Some people wish they'd been more responsible and thoughtful in their youth. Me? Sometimes I wish I hadn't spent my youth following the rules, guided by fear. That I'd have let loose, lived impulsively, gone a little crazy. Traveled to faraway places. Fallen in love just to be in love. Gambled away my rent money on a weekend trip to Vegas. Done the things I wanted to do instead of all those things I needed to do. Maybe I wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night, with the itch to get in the car, without a plan, and just go where the road takes me.
An itch I'll never scratch, of course, because I'm too old to be impulsive and too young for a mid-life crisis. Or at least, I think I'm too young for a mid-life crisis. Oh, shit. Maybe I'm not. *sigh*
But I'm sure that if I had done those things, lived my life on the wild side, I may not have become the person that I grew up to be. And for all my bitching, I do appreciate the life I have now. Maybe I'd be just as full of regret, just of a different flavor. Maybe it's foolish to entertain such thoughts because 8 and 17 and 21 are just dots in the rearview mirror.
Or maybe I should just re-think that many drinks on a Wednesday night. Maybe even that's too wild anymore. I'm not very practiced, after all.