Whenever there is talking of missing something, I always find my mind drifting to a certain time, a certain group of friends, a certain set of memories that evoke a smile at almost the same time as this weird panging feeling I get in my chest. I can never really decide if that time was a good one or a bad one. One thing is for sure - it definitely wasn't boring.
I'm talking, of course, about the teen years. Specifically the latter part of my teen years, from 16-19. It's no secret that I was a complete monster when I was younger (blame it on the hormones) and I gave my parents no end of stress. I've said before that I think I was suffering from depression even then, a theory corroborated by my doctor last week - but that's a post for another time. I see this period of time as sort of a transitional period...at 16 I was a nightmare, but by the time I left for university just after my 19th birthday I'd managed to screw my head on a little better. I was no longer as aggressive and hostile and just generally unhappy as I had been. For the most part, anyway.
You might be wondering why I would choose this period of time as the time that I miss, when I was perhaps finding things difficult. And I won't lie, there were times when things were pretty damn bad. Even with the depression, and the added difficulty of a fairly volatile relationship (I once smashed his face into a car bonnet during an argument - ahh the folly of youth) I still mostly remember all the wonderful things that happened during that time. I had a brilliant group of friends, and I often feel sad that I'm no longer as close with any of them. I was top of my game academically, being one of the very few big fish in the small pond that was my under-achieving comprehensive secondary school and sixth form college. I went to local gigs, drank pints of snakebite and smoked endless Mayfairs, dressed up in ridiculous fancy dress costumes for Halloween, had my tongue, lip and nosed pierced, got both my tattoos, dyed my hair all manner of ridiculous colours - then cut it all off. I had house parties - house parties that have gone down as friendship group legends. I flirted with the boy who worked in the Gadget Shop, then wrote my number on the back of a receipt and gave it to him. He took me to see the Simpson's Movie and bought me a Peanut Butter and Oreo milkshake from Shake About. I spent hours and hours hanging out in skate parks, in the woods, in fields, basically anywhere and every teenagers go with their friends when they're at that age - that age when huddling under a half-pipe in the freezing cold and rain is a more appealing thought than sitting at home. I went on nights out with a fiver in my purse and a bottle of vodka stashed in my bag. I thought I was so painfully cool with my piercings and my converse and my angsty on-off relationship. I mentioned he was in a band, right? Yep. Drummer. I mean, it would have been cooler if he'd been the guitarist or lead singer of course, but still. He was in a band. And he had his own car. And his parents had a swimming pool. I basically thought I was the coolest person on earth.
Those were good times - much simpler times. When you're sixteen you think everything is the end of the world, that every drama is going to ruin your life and that nobody on earth has ever felt this way about anything or anyone ever before. And to be honest, I still feel like that now - it's just not as easy to get away with when you're in your twenties. I'm not sure when or even how it happened, but at some point it stopped being acceptable to be flighty and impulsive. To be overly emotional, to throw things at people, to spend hours doing nothing just 'because'. It's no longer ok for me to come home with grass stains on my jeans. Strongbow is no longer the right thing for me to drink. Now I drink wine or gin and tonic or fancy cocktails that I can't pronounce the names of. I am no longer allowed to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Now, at not-even-23, it is no longer ok for me to like the boy that works in the Gadget Shop. Now I have to like the advertising exec, the banker, the insurance broker. When did that happen? When did which boy I like stop depending on a cute smile and start depending on their career prospects? When did it stop being ok for me to cry for absolutely no reason at all, which at the time felt like all the reasons in the world?
I am a woman now - a grown woman with a career, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how that happened.
I miss that time. I miss being a teenager. I miss being allowed to be angsty and angry and volatile. I miss having that 'get out of jail free' card that comes hand in hand with the hormones. I miss spending entire weekends raking the streets, traipsing around shopping centres, sneaking into pubs and clubs with fake IDs. I miss laughing over ridiculous things that I cannot for the life of me remember now. I miss whispering secrets to my best friend. I miss milkshake dates and that first day of summer feeling, when six weeks seems like an eternity and a heartbeat all at once, when you know that no matter how much you try you will never manage to do all the things you want to do but you're so excited that you don't care anyway.
And, you know what? I miss the Strongbow too.
With all my love,