Fearing the end of the ‘good ol’ days’

By Ben Moriarty

It’s almost the end of the first semester of my (and 4,000 other people’s I don’t know or care about) senior year, and I’ve begun trying to figure out what I’m going to do next year. Well, thinking about what place will possibly take or hire me. And it’s got me thinking, but hardly of the future.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of times past – particularly when I was a kid – and I get that gushy nostalgic feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s the same kind of feeling that you might get from a girl or the feeling you get when you’re about to throw up from drinking too much. The two are hard to distinguish when they pass by so quickly.

Or maybe it just really is that feeling that arises when you think about the good ol’ days of middle and high school. When you didn’t have a care in the world besides finding the perfect balance of slacking. Where you did well enough to not get yelled at by your parents but not enough to actually try, with tendencies of not caring about either after a while.

I remember some things from those days. Not much though, because I totaled my car in high school by driving it into a telephone pole and resultantly got a concussion. I still blame my poor memory on that, even though I’m not sure if the two are actually related. It makes me feel better knowing I am dumb because of my own doing.

But mostly, from my past, I remember the times when my friends and I would stay up all night playing videogames together. When we would go out with BB guns, pretending to try to shoot at birds because I didn’t – and I’m sure my friends didn’t either – want to actually kill anything. And we never did. But we were horrible at aiming so we wouldn’t have been able to anyways.

I remember when we would smoke Djarum Blacks while driving to all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffets because it was cool. Then we would buy a Box o’ Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts to stay up all night doing absolutely nothing but talking idly about whether the Loch Ness Monster actually existed and whether Natalie Portman or Jennifer Love Hewitt was more attractive.  

It was the time when everything you did was fun, no matter how inane or dull it seems now. No matter if you formed a band named Mammoth Kill and only learned one song before disbanding because of musical differences which have since been mended. Or if you lost all five bucks you had playing poker. Or if you threw things at the people in front of you in the movie theatre because your hormonally and mentally imbalanced mind thought it was hysterical.

But now, all these things seem so trivial and forgotten. Ask my friends if they want to get a Box o’ Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts and stay up all night playing videogames? Well, maybe, but you’d probably have to switch the Box o’ Joe for a handle of booze. Or, if you are one of those botanist types, with some decriminalized Mary Jane.

Life is just so much more complicated, and it has nothing to do with the fact that we are all going to need to find jobs and move on to the “real world.” I am quite looking forward to having a job. I hate school and academics as a whole. But I am absolutely dreading growing up, but only in the completely emotional sense of fearing to lose the childhood bonds and feelings that one might still have by entering the real world – if they even still exist in me now.

Is it possible to escape the cycle which seems so prevalent, of going from the innocence and simplicity of childhood to the ubiquitous smearing of adulthood, which is all too evident in our college experiences today? How hard is it to, like the Arcade Fire says, when you get older, stop your heart from getting colder? Or like Jesus says, changing and becoming like little children? To be, as a child, life longing for itself, in the words of Khalil Gibran?

 I spent this last summer in Guatemala, and it was the happiest I have ever been, which isn’t saying very much. Perhaps ignoring what I was doing there, I don’t think it really has much to do with anything besides it being the simple innocence of not having any outside ties or influences over what I did. Being, in all respects, and – contrary to what people may think they are like now – free like a child, not ashamed of doing good or being myself – having the same amount of shame as a child.

So I end up sitting here wondering if drinking on the weekends and being something I hardly want is what the future holds for me, or whether I can, like I desire, to revert my entire self back to what I was when I was a child. To possibly, despite it being the future, live like the past.

As childish as that sounds.

Ben Moriarty is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]