Not even half an hour ago, I got off the phone with A., who--I'm guessing--forced himself to stay awake and wish me a "Merry Christmas Eve." Given that he is an hour ahead of Central Time, he had already been "celebrating" today for an hour by the time we were wrapping up our conversation.
One of the first things we discussed is my financial situation for next semester which--at the moment--is quite bleak. Bluntly put, I need money. To be more exact, I found out yesterday that I was denied yet another loan. To be exacter, I have no idea how I am going to pay for next semester's "tuition, fees, travel, and miscellaneous."
Our talk then turned more nostalgic. Though I asked him where "this was coming from," A. provided no answer as to why he suddenly announced that he wished he could go back in time.
"Why?" I asked, not quite sure what to expect for an answer.
Childhood was the answer; naive and simple childhood. Given what today is, I was transported to my own Christmas memories, especially the year when I was five.
We were living in the house prior to the one I reside in now, and, as I recall, it had been a "hard year." It was the year that I had asked my mom if we were going to be homeless. It was the one-year anniversary of my grandfather's death. It was the last Christmas spent in "the yellow house." Not having hardly any money to buy food or pay bills, I wasn't expecting too many gifts from my mother. However, I knew that I could always count on Santa Claus to bestow his gracious gifts upon me.
Sure enough--having woken up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom--I quietly crept out of my room and into "the other room." The French doors were swung open, and my mom slumbered on the couch, which sufficed as her bed. In the light of the TV, I saw a large dollhouse, and several other Barbie components that I had wished for, including a swimming pool. In my white, full-length nightgown that, for several years, I designated as my Christmas Eve pajamas, I knelt next to my new toys, carefully stroking them with my index finger. Even in the near blackness, the shiny, bright pink of the "Barbie bathtub" shone in the blue shadows that flashed throughout the room. Breathlessly, I admired each new gift, anxiously awaiting the wee hours of the morning when I could actually play with them.
However, it wasn't Christmas that wasn't on A.'s mind. Rather, it was quite the opposite.
"I just wish I could go back to those times, you know?" he said evocatively. "I mean, looking back, things aren't the same anymore. The sunset doesn't seem quite as beautiful. The moon is not as big, and...there's not as many stars in the sky, even. It's just...looking back, as a child, the world had more color; more saturation, especially in the summer."
"I would agree," was my lame response. I followed through with an explanation of my long-time best friend, who--for thirteen years of school--was also my next-door neighbor. During the summers, we would--literally--spend all day, every day together, outside. It was wonderful; the barefooted freedom of tree-climbing and bike riding and snake-catching and softball and swing-sets and chalk drawings and fireflies. It was as if nothing less than infinite weariness would tear us from the husky glow of the summer sunset. Each day had provided an innocent and exciting adventure which, of course, stretched our imaginations and blackened our barefooted soles.
There were the Christmases, too; each year, faithfully on the 27th of December, one of us would call the other and invite the other one over. There was the year, for instance, that I received LEGO kits and we spent several hours reconstructing "LEGOville" on my bedroom floor. There was the year that we exchanged Beanie Babies and build cities out of cardboard boxes. There was the year that her room was being remodeled, and so we spent time in her makeshift bedroom, feeding her hermit crab and playing mancala. There was the year she and her younger sister received an N64, and we spent all day trying to perfect our Mario Kart skills. Subsequently, the next year I got an N64, and received lessons from her on how to expertly play Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
I could write an entire book on the history between she and I. I could write about how she and I would always don snowpants and conquer the mountains of chunky ice in the church parking lot next door. Or how we both had the training wheels taken off of our bikes on the same day. I could include all the inconsequential details, such as the day we edited each other's poetry on her porch and found that we were both equally jealous of each other's writing, or how--in tenth grade--we would avidly listen to Avril Lavigne and both claim that we had a deep connection to "My World."
What's interesting is that I can see her argument now; she really was that girl that wondered "where do I belong, forever?"
Six years later, we are still next-door neighbors. However, we rarely speak to each other; we have grown much too far apart, and both of us are very different from the seventeen-year-old selves that we parted from. Sometimes I still think of her poem, "Reflections upon Reflections," and feel guilty for wishing I could write something so resplendent. Sometimes I think back to our ten-year-old selves when we would play "Titanic" in my backyard and sing every major-motion picture song we knew.
I still look out of my bedroom window at times to catch a glimpse of her; I'm sure she notices. The room that was once her makeshift bedroom is the established computer/guest room, and we have caught each other's eyes through the blinds late at night. Just like Avril proclaims, we both "stay up late without sleeping." However, I'm sure we're each embedded in our own thoughts; she--with anything and everything I can't think of, and me--with the nostalgic memories that unfolded themselves with A.'s "things aren't the same anymore."