Sunday, March 4, 2012

How It Feels To Be Young Again

It had been a long day. I watched the waves of the pacific crash against the deserted beach from my table in the ocean front restaurant. The remnants of dinner waited patiently to be cleared from our plates. My son fingered the shark tooth necklace he had bought the day before as my daughter struggled to keep her eyes open. She slipped out of her chair and crawled onto my lap, placing her head on my chest.

A light breeze caused the the muscles of my arm to shiver. I enfolded my daughter and lowered my face into her hair. I inhaled deeply and took in the fragrance of shampoo from her pre dinner bath. The brand from the hotel was different than the one we used at home.

Within seconds, long forgotten memories came flooding into my consciousness. For a moment I could touch the textures, taste the flavors, and feel the vibrant emotions long passed.

I was young again.


For an eleven year old, the allure of sleep away camp was not the sports nor the freedom of being parentless for a month. It was the nights. Each evening, the camp counselors would turn off the lights and tuck the campers into bunk beds before leaving. And each night, the campers plotted their escape route.

We called ourselves "raiders" and danced among the trees and shrubs to avoid the few unlucky counselors who were assigned to patrol duty. If we were caught, we risked being placed on stable duty and shoveling manure left behind by various animals. But if we were successful, we crossed the open field to an identical set of cabins and stole a few moments with our counterparts from the opposite sex.

On one such evening, a group of us snuck into the girls cabin and convinced them to accompany us for a midnight stroll. Heather had just gotten out of the shower and was reticent to come along. I hadn't yet professed my feelings and usually could barley look her in the eye. But this time, the adrenaline bolstered my confidence.

Come on Heather, it wouldn't be the same without you!

Moments later we were running through a pitch black field hand in hand. As a light flashed over head, we jumped into the bushes and huddled together to keep still. My face pressed close to hers, I inhaled the sweet smell of her breath. The fragrance of her hair filled my nostrils.

A harsh voice crackled from an adjacent tree. The lights passed across our faces. We were caught.


The child experiences seconds as if they are minutes. Lives minutes as if they are days. There is no contemplation of aging because life is limitless.

I imagine there will be a time when my body is old and decrepit. My routine will no longer have external goals but will become a purpose unto itself.

I'll look forward to the young woman who comes to help me with my pills and lowers me into the bath against the will of my body. And the smell of her hair will no longer remind me of Heather, or those lost moments at camp. Instead I will revel in the memory of a trip to Mexico where my daughter curled up on my lap after a long day and a brief dinner.

I will spend the rest of the day lost in contemplation,

remembering how it feels to be young again.

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