Your salonniere has been invited to her 20th high school reunion, and truthfully its not such a shock that two decades have come and gone since those salad days of shining youth. If anything the digits 2 and 0 seem smaller than the time and experience bridged.
Seeing former cheerleaders trading comments with stage crew from theater on the Facebook page, which certainly would have never happened back in the day, bring on a flood of memories. Remembrances of unrequited loves, lost friendships, and heart-breaking crushes now shake the senses. An urgency to net those days past have taken hold of this writer’s pen, and it’d be foolish not to capture on paper the years time forgot.
A painfully sweet exercise inspired for non-fiction and fiction writing is to reflect over past crushes since childhood, starting from elementary school and spilling into college. Boy/girlfriends are different and should be considered in a separate exercise since crushes represent ideals that weren’t necessarily realized. Crushes aren’t even the ones who got away but admirations pined from a distance, possibly never broached, so the admired might even to this day still be caught in a fantasy bubble.
Go through each of your past crushes, capture as many details as you can about that person. What was it about your crush that attracted and stimulated you? What words and gestures were exchanged? Where? How? What small details kept that fantasy running and most importantly, how did the idealization of that person represent ideals about yourself that you wanted to attain at the time? How did your past crushes reflect the kind of person you wanted to be, maybe the person you thought you were, or the person you desperately wanted to become only if…
You could then compare these idealizations to the boy/girlfriends dated, the people you snagged or who snagged you and how idealizations came into flesh and bumped into the reality of ego.
Along the same lines, why not list all the “best” or closest friends you’ve had since elementary school up to college and reflect over what drew you to each other. What aspects about yourself did you confide in your besties and why? How did each best friend define who you were at each specific moment in time? Push yourself and your assumptions by examining how your friendships might have also been shaped by your ethnicity, your socio-economic background, your parents’ and your grandparents’ histories, and maybe how your crushes were ways to push the boundaries of race, gender roles, and socio-economic constraints. Friends were the reality and hopefully the sanctuary of the reality. Crushes could have been the escape.
In the twenty years that have passed countless memories have slipped with time. Any chance we get to ponder the many selves we’ve been, to remember the innumerable lives our selves have bumped up against is worth stealing away.
What memories and flights of imagination have taken flight since you last walked down memory lane? Share your own exercises and writerly muses here.