I decided to venture outside for a run this weekend.
Running outside is a nice change from the treadmill. Even though I don’t have the convenience of counting my calories and distance, it forces me to listen to my body. It’s also nice to enjoy the scenery – to feel like I’m running somewhere.
That sunny afternoon, I run past my usual cut-off point and end up at the street where my best friend used to live. On a whim, I decide to veer left so I can run past the exact apartment complex. Instead of brown and cream, the exterior is now painted a light blue. I remember being dropped off at this very spot nearly every Friday night during the summer of my freshman year. Early on Saturday morning, I’d wake up to go to church with her family. Of course, the real reason I begged my mom to have me stay over was so that my friend, G, and I could stay up late giggling over our boyfriends, trying on her newest outfits, and gossiping about mutual acquaintances. I heard so-and-so got caught messing around… is she really running away with her boyfriend…who’s still a virgin…? Things that were of utmost important in a 14 year old girl’s life.
Rejuvenated by my sudden nostalgia, I ran further down towards my former elementary and middle school (attached to the church), where she and I have stayed friends since the 4th grade. I slow my jog down as I peek inside the parking lot. There’s a pang in my stomach when I notice that the rainbow arched bars, my favorite place to sit during recess, is gone. This was the very bar where G & I sat with our other friend, school uniforms and all, for a yearbook photo tagged “Best of Friends.” Only tanbark and a lone monkey bar set are left behind. No one would be able to guess that this place once held memories of where G & I had our first fight in the 5th grade (over a game), where a group of us would lounge on the picnic tables trying on the new “raisin” colored lipstick, or that I cried and sat on the nearby curb the day my 8th grade crush turned me down. In many ways, this was where my theories of life and relationship dynamics were first formed – this very playground.
It’s Saturday afternoon and though I know the church service is long over, I wait around, though I’m not sure for what. I spot my friend’s auntie loading her car with potluck utensils and head over to say hello. She breaks into a smile when she sees me waving. I would hug her, but I’m sweaty in my shorts and blue Ciao Bella t-shirt. We exchange the customary “how are you doing”s and status updates.
“It’s been such a long time since I was last here…” I say wistfully. I’m positive she can’t place the emotion in my voice since she’s not sure how to respond other than to smile and nod. When we part and I turn away, I can’t stop the wave of heaviness. I’m a sentimental person, but I wasn’t expecting this. Nearly thirteen years later, why do seeing all of these old places make me feel so bittersweet? Maybe I wish for those days of simplicity again. Maybe I fear that I’ll easily forget these seemingly insignificant moments, forget about those two little girls. Maybe so much in my life is changing that I’m not quite ready to “grow up.”
As I run back towards my home, I know it’s a mixure of all of the three.