When I was in middle school, my friends and I decided that the best place for a clubhouse would be at the very end of the runway of the small airport in my town. The airport was just across the woods from my neighborhood, and despite the layers of fences, there were plenty of ways to get on to the property to explore.
That’s what kids used to do before Netflix, just so you younger readers have some context.
I can’t tell you how no one ever saw us. We didn’t exactly do a great job of keeping quiet. Granted, we did a fantastic job of “hitting the ground” when a plane was coming in, but still you’d think someone would have seen and been a little suspicious of three eleven year olds hanging around the runway carrying large sticks and leaves out of the surrounding woods.
But, as I said, we never got caught, and our parents never found out. Well, until now I guess. Sorry Mom, Mrs. Karen, and Mrs. Robin.
The fort was nothing to be proud of. If we’re being honest, it was terribly pathetic despite a whole summer’s work. It was nothing more than a few sticks leaned against the natural concave of a small clay cave. We piled leaves over the sticks in attempt to disguise the fort as an aspect of nature.
We barely fit in there together, all squished with crossed and cramping legs. And despite the exciting idea of a homemade fort, we never really had anything to do once it was finished. We would just sit around, eat the fruit snacks we packed, and drink the cans of room temperature cokes that we stole from our houses. We would talk, and laugh at jokes that would only be funny to eleven year olds, and discuss ways to make money to buy new air-soft guns.
But then, about once every two hours we would hear the rumble of an airplane, and this is when the fort became perfect.
We would lay down on the dirt floor of our cave and watch the sky through the small holes left from the sticks of our roof. The world would start to shake, and the noise would begin to grow louder, and our bodies would tense in excitement until the plane flew right above us, either landing or taking off. It would be close enough to throw a rock at, close enough to kill us if even the smallest thing went wrong, close enough to give our parents heart attacks, once again, sorry, Mom, Mrs. Karen, and Mrs. Robin.
The excitement, and the adrenaline, and the freedom of the moment is something my young soul had barely known at that point. We would scream in whispers until the plane’s large body cleared our sight either skidding to a stop on the runway, or ascending into the air destined to be someone new and far away in the matter of an hour.
Our bodies would relax. We would sit back up in our cross-legged positions, and go back to the normality of sitting at the end of a private airport’s runway, eating our fruit snacks and drinking our warm cokes.
These memories have been playing in my head a lot lately for the first time in years. I had forgotten about this and many other moments of a younger me. I had forgotten my explorations with my two dear friends, one who is now expecting his first baby, and the other who is at Auburn University majoring in microbiology just for the heck of it. I had forgotten the good days in a town that I was so desperate to leave.
For the first time in years my life has brought me to a sort of pause, and my mind is finally letting me return to these days that helped to form me before disappearing inside of me.
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned the beauty of nostalgia and the importance of allowing myself to spend a little time in these past, distant, and beautiful memories of a little girl who was me before life grabbed me and dragged me at a pace where I could not take any time to look back.
I believe there was something, a moment, or a movement, or maybe even just a day that I missed. I grew up, and I lost so much of myself. Some things were necessary to lose, my impulsive decisions, my immature tantrums, my easy annoyance. But I lost a few parts of my in age that I can’t help but mourn a little, my adventurous nature, my wild imagination, my ability to be impractical. It wasn’t until lately that I began to remember her, myself.
I tend to be so futuristic that I don’t leave room in my thoughts for the past. I tend to be so driven to reach new chapters that I don’t allow myself to visit the realm of nostalgia.
It wasn’t until an unfortunate event put my life on hold that I was granted the freedom of a little time to look back, to reflect. The memories were kind. The nostalgia of the memories welcomed me like a long lost friend, despite the cruel refusal to feel that I’ve carried for years.
I went back in time for a while. I welcomed my nostalgia, and it reminded me of beautiful days of beautiful memories. I visited my nostalgia and the memories were kind.