The sound of mosquitos terrifies me. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s the buzzing or maybe it’s the animosity of their existence, but I’ve always been scared. Memories of nights lying awake in terror strike me at the mere whisper of their sound and I’m instantly transported to that summer. It was a blur of a time, days of working long hours blend with leisure time, driving down an unmarked road and discovered new peninsulas at night. I think I was happy then, but I’m not sure. To be honest, I can’t quite remember when I was happy. Somewhere between the ridges of my undergrad and graduation, I must have lost myself. I was warned, that I can’t deny. People told me you lose yourself in college amidst the zealous first years, the endless clubs, the long-stretching nights of study, and the ceaseless herds of tour guests. I was happy, that I know, but to pinpoint the time, the place, and the situation seems impossible.
I remember this one night, this one never-ending night where we were driving back to campus. It was one of those typical college scenes, with friends laughing in the back seat, clutching their McDonalds, screaming along to the music. I remember thinking just how infinite I felt, like something straight out of a teen movie. Speeding up my university’s mountain, our heartbeats in-time with the music as we stuffed fries into our mouths and attempted not to choke. Was I happy then? Or does my mind wear rose-coloured glasses when remembering the past? Memories seem to replay the good and eject the bad. But I’d like to think I was happy.
We walked back to campus that night with the smell of young adulthood heavy in the air. I’m still young now and it’s almost comical to think I’ve aged, but something about that night felt so new and fresh. Open hearts as bright as the lights off the hill because there was nothing to fear. Sure, the odd mind wandered to thoughts of relationships and school and work, but in that moment nothing could bring us down. That’s how I remember it.
His face would always come to my mind at times like these. Sure, he wasn’t friends with my friends nor did we even attend the same college, but he was mine and I was his. He, who let me discover passion in a way I never had before, was my shining star. The boy I’d written poems about, the boy who had saved me in my darkest time. He was everything and yet he was not there, in my shining moment of youngness. He was young, too, but that was beside the point. Sometimes it’s our happiest moments spent away from those who are closest to that we begin to find people that meet needs we never knew we had before. That’s not to say that those original people lose their importance. Frankly, it’s the contrary. It’s in these moments that we begin to find new spaces within ourselves for new people, and begin to cherish the old, occupied spaces a little bit more in a new, more heightened way.
I think that’s what happiness is all about—finding ways to make space to feel happiness in new ways and allowing others to revel in those experiences as well.