Quiet Thoughts: The Best Years of Our Lives

 October 1999, somewhere outside Chicago

October 1999, somewhere outside Chicago

There's been a feeling in the back of my mind for a while, for years actually, when I think back and reminisce about my youth (specifically, high school and early college). I remember a feeling of excitement, passion, and confidence. I would frequently be out with friends, at all hours, for what felt like days at a time. We'd be out at local concerts, or bookstores, or in diners until 3am, drinking coffee, arguing politics, and laughing, while dreaming about what our lives would become. Maybe this feeling is just me being nostalgic for the energetic optimism of youth. 

I remember being told to soak up those years, since it was likely they'd be the best of my life. I scoffed. I actively said, "Fuck that! This years suck!", and looking back, I couldn't have been more wrong. They were good, even great at times. We all knew each other so well, we would finish each others sentences. We'd sing, dance, kiss, and fuck. We'd cry, scream, fight, and hate.

We didn't know that those days would be fleeting because we were experiencing them in all their depth and intensity. I think we knew in the back of our minds that it wouldn't last, but our naivety had not yet been tempered by age and wisdom.

I remember being 17, laying on the lawn at a friend's house. It was summer, and it didn't get dark until really late. So we'd just sit outside and talk. Wait for other friends to arrive. Then maybe go see some bands play, or goto the movies. I remember the faces of people I've not seen or spoken to in what has been or feels like almost decades.

 October 2004, Lower Nob Hill, SF

October 2004, Lower Nob Hill, SF

I remember being 22, brand new to the bay area, and truly alone for the first time in my life. The first time I walked from the Montgomery St. Muni station, up Market Street, to O'Farrell, and then another few blocks up, to check out an apartment I might be able to afford on my own, only to see, for the first time, what real homelessness looks like. It was in that moment, that I feel I experienced what being an adult was like. The awesome power of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. I walked all the way back to Montgomery, filled with doubt and confusion. What had I done?

I remember being 27, spending my free nights in some local bars and clubs of San Francisco, trying to find some semblance of those connections I felt a decade prior. I met people who were all amazing in their own rights, but few who I would be able to latch onto, tell my deepest secrets, and share my darkest fears. I'd fallen in and out of love more times than I care to remember, been cast off by persons whoI'd convinced myself were all that I needed in my life, and watched as more and more relationships withered.

 March 2010, SOMA, SF

March 2010, SOMA, SF

It's only now that I recognize that I'm really bad at being prescient for my own future, regardless of the volumes of planning I undertake. I also realize that life has a way of surprising you, that the days you assumed would be clear and bright would end up being dark and stormy, and to be sure, the inverse occurs as well.

You could ask, if you were capable of going back in time and giving yourself advice, would you do it? Part of me says yes, I'd sure as hell go back and tell myself to invest every spare penny until I was 25 into AAPL (Apple, Inc.), because holy crap. But at the same time, I'm not sure I'd trade some of the relationships I've had for the vaguest potential ones that could have been. Oh, and I'd be sure to kick my own ass a few times. For sure.

What I'm getting at is not that I'm trying to be necessarily nostalgic, but that I try not to hold onto any regrets or second thoughts, knowing that every moment spurs our personal and shared timelines into an unimaginable future, where anything is possible, yet will only unfold in one way. And that might not be even remotely as we dream it will be when we're 17.

Thanks for reading. 

 -Wm.