This morning was lazy and lovely. Derrick left to walk the dog in the cold March wind while I lay in my warm March bed, dozing and dreaming for the better part of an hour. The earliest of spring suns pushed through the blinds and fell across my sleepy face, and the only sound in our normally cacophonic castle was the gentle rush of the vent under my bedroom window. It was a rare Saturday morning wherein we had nothing on the calendar, the kids were still asleep and my house (get ready for this) was already clean. I should have been lying there thinking about how good I have it: beautiful kids, beautiful(ish) husband, and beautiful springtime just around the corner. I should have been thinking about how lucky I was to have my fine health, my fine(ish) mind and the fine perspective on life that comes as the years saddle on.
But instead of warming my hands around these blessings as I curled up in my covers, do you what I was thinking about? Being twenty. And how young and stupid and fabulous I was back then.
The vent hummed along as a kaleidescope of mid-nineties memories toppled over each other in my mind. I saw myself with longer hair and a thinner body (can you imagine?), hefting a monstrous brown suede backpack up the hill to the humanities building for my eight o’clock class. I saw myself walking a cheerful mile to work after class, the noon sun high as I ducked into the shade of a campus cafe for my favorite lunch–small vanilla yogurt piled high with crushed Oreos. I saw myself sitting with my roommates around the kitchen table at 2 am, gulping down bowl after bowl of Tootie Frooties (Froot Loops by-the-bag) as we rehashed the day’s drama, unable to sleep with the mouth-watering angst over what might happen tomorrow, next week, next year. How could I sleep with so many unknown variables bouncing wildly around in the vivid affair that was my life? My life. My life! It was an exquisitely crafted soap opera (widely viewed, I was certain) whose outcome was a delicious mystery to all. Oh, how enthralled I was with myself back then! Self-absorbed, melodramatic, a little pathetic? Sure. But oh-so-enthralled.
Which isn’t to say that I’m not now. In so many ways–all the good and right ones–my life is more interesting to me now than it was back then. The world of my youth was miniature compared to the world I can access an adult; I had so little power then, such a narrow range of motion. But the cool thing about being young was: you didn’t know it. Though my world was bordered by whatever was in walking distance (who had a car back then?), I considered my world to be without boundaries. Because as a youth, I lived in the World of Possiblity. And so it didn’t matter than my twenty-year old life, when I look back on it now, was actually small and boring and common. It was lived in my own head, to the beat of my own heart, and it was magnificent. No one could tell me otherwise.
And so this soft Saturday morning, lying snugly wrapped in recollection, I realized that the thing I missed about my youth wasn’t really my youth at all. I don’t want to be twenty again with no money, no car and no clue. I want to remain in this world of adulthood, with its responsibilities, regrets and all. But what I do want to do, a little more often, is visit that old, wonderful World of Possibility. It still exists, you know, even if it’s only in my own head and to the beat of my own heart. And it’s a magnificent place to be.
No one can tell me otherwise.