The Get Up Kids years

A friend of mine passed away a few weeks ago.  I guess, in this respect, I use the term “friend” lightly.  We were friends in our teens and twenties but have since only kept up the way adults our age seem to – through Facebook, Instagram and the occasional twitter update.

We were all especially close during those pivotal late teen and early 20’s years, marked by college, part time jobs, and finding ourselves, all of which mixed together in some inexplicable fashion, creating people, who at least for me, make me cringe when I look back.

We rode the bus together from 6thgrade (7th, really, because he was a year younger) until late high school when we either got cars or caught rides with friends who would drive way out of the way to pick us up, simply for the extra driving time.

In true Cassie fashion, I knew him mostly through his brother, who I had a giant crush on for most of my teen and early 20 years.  I can say that now, right?  Now that I’m 37, have three kids, have waded my way through marriage, three kids, separation, and new relationships.  It’s ok to admit that I had a crush on this person.  Who am I kidding, we all knew it.

When I first heard he passed away (through Facebook, as you do), I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The standard thoughts floated through my head, he was so full of life, he passed away so young, how is this happening? Then my thoughts floated towards his brother, the person I grew up closer to, the person who had now lost a sibling, something I can never imagine.

And then, of course, as egotists do, my thoughts turned towards myself, and those years we were all together almost daily, a random group of us, living with each other in a variety of configurations, until we all grew up, got married, and went our separate ways.

My late teens and early 20’s for me were chock full of so many huge events that when I think back on them, they tend to blur until I can barely tell what was reality and what I may have made up in my head.  My real first kiss (by someone mentioned in this diatribe, no doubt), my parents finally divorcing, transferring colleges like it was my full time job, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, meeting my husband at 21, picking up and moving away once I graduated.

But really, it was those two apartments; the one on walker avenue and the one in Evergreen, that truly defined my 20’s for me.  Where we basically lived in a huddled bunch.  Even though some of us didn’t even live there, we were all together enough for it to not make any difference.  Each only lasted a year, but honestly they felt like so much longer.

It’s during these years, and the ones directly proceeding it, that I can remember the little things, the little moments that made my late teens and early 20’s what they were.  I remember the arguments about new wave pop artists like the psychedelic furs at the Valley View apartment for hours at a time. Learning about new bands and new music, songs that if I heard them now bring me back to road trips and car rides in a Subaru Justy.  Me and my best friend J, sitting at Starbucks for days at a time, discovering frappachinos, because one of us had a crush on the very cute barista (note: it was not me). Seeing bands I never would have seen, (hello Dashboard Confessional, when he was just guy, with a guitar and stool, at an all-ages show in a church).  That one Mineral song that seemed to play on repeat for days (or months, or years…I can’t remember).

Ever since “growing up” I’ve tried to forget these years.  Maybe forget is a harsh word.  I’ve tried to put them away, locked up nicely and decorated with a little bow, so I could pull out the happy memories when I needed them, leaving the memories of the mess of a person that I was far behind.  But maybe now, even just for a little while, I’ll sit back and let myself remember it all, the experiences (both good and bad), the music that shaped these years, and most of all the people, those who during those times, I could not imagine my life without.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.