Watching time pass and the rites of youth change hands is a strange phenomenon. In part, it’s a nice thing to experience. It brings back the smiles and the laughter, and reminds us of what once was. If we can’t relive it, we can watch with a knowing joy, how those who go after us laugh at the same things we once did. On the other hand, it reminds us, that in many ways we can never go home again. We may stand in a yard that we know better than the backs of our hands, steeped in nothing but memories, and feel a little bit like strangers. It’s like remembering a house that someone else lives in now. It’s a little bit consoling to see it from afar on lonely days, but on other days, it’s very presence is excruciating.
This weekend my best friends were in town. We all gathered at one of the friend’s grandmother’s house for a cookout. When I stepped foot on those 13 some odd acres, the smell hit me first. It was the smell of what late Spring nights meant at sixteen years old. It was a smell that meant ten girls in half-filled bikinis were riding over the hills in a John Deere Gator as if they were owning the power of a Lamborghini. The smell meant we were fresh out of the neighbor’s pool plotting which of the nearby boys’ cars we would roll. Except this time, I was an adult. I was bringing plastic picnic items, because I was old enough to contribute to the party. That Gator stayed parked in the dusty garage, lonely from years without companionship.
We eventually decided to dust off the old Gator, and go for a ride for old times sake. We threw the potatos out of the back, and climbed in. However this time, we had a new member for our club: the daughter of my friend. She is two and a half, and taking her first ride. Instead of speeding up and down the hills, we take them slowly, in an effort to keep the toddler safe. We drive her to see the horses grazing in the pasture, before bringing the farming vehicle to a stop beside the hammock we once broke from piling into all at once.
Our time in that field had passed, and the torch was in a new hand. We were now four women watching from afar, two pregnant, and the other two pondering when we might be. Life has new, more profound excitements, and maybe slightly less magic. The absence of magic isn’t a tragic death. It’s only one brand of magic, and there are others. It’s the niave magic though, the one that can’t be recaptured. That’s what nostalgia is for. However when it made its appropriate exit, it made room for real things, things we can hold onto. It made room for our marriages, births, homes, goals that were once only dreams, and strength. There’s a reason it all ends. It’s actually the way we get to keep the magic in a box to look at from time to time for smiles on days where grown-up life gets too real. If it wasn’t another time, long gone, to escape to in our heads, it would have served no purpose to begin with. We would never have known it was truly magical. This way, we keep forever the things only that field grass knows, and graciously gift it again and again…the magic in that grass.