The Friday before my 17th birthday, my grandparents came to visit. They only stayed a few hours, most of which I was at school, but they wished me happy birthday and gave me a check for $25. That evening, with cash to burn, I headed downtown. Little did I know when I parked my yellow Huffy, not only was I going to revisit old memories as I wandered, but I was going to learn a lot.
First up: the local art shop that I went to on my first date with the girl who broke my heart and stole my Moana sandwich box. At first I was hesitant to go in. What if I saw something that reminded me of her? Worse yet, what if she was there? I put my worries aside and walked in, immediately enchanted by all of the locally sourced prints and pins and soaps and clothes. There were so many things that I wanted to buy, but nothing quite captured me like the coloring book depicting flowery versions of the human anatomy. I picked up a copy and headed over to the register.
“I love it in here,” I mused to the cashier, a friendly woman in her mid-20s. “Haven’t been in in almost two years, though.” This seemed to pique her interest, so I continued: “Last time I was in here, I was on a first date, but things didn’t end well, and I was avoiding bad memories.”
She nodded knowingly. “Well, almost the whole store’s changed since then,” she offered, leaving me to contemplate change as I thanked her and left the store.
Next, I headed over to the coffee shop I hadn’t been to since that same first date. That day, I had been so nervous, I hardly ate anything while we were there. Now, I got myself a cookie dough macaron and a potato salad, which was really just small potatoes and seasoning with a thick dressing to dip them in, but it was delicious, so who am I to judge?
I didn’t spend much time at the coffee shop, opting to take my food and wander into the record store across the street. I remember going into that store when I was 13, desperate to seem edgy and cool by buying a Jefferson Airplane record that I never listened to. Salad in hand, I went to see if they had any Mariah Carey (they didn’t) and left without buying anything.
My last stop was an arcade-slash-soda bar I had been to a few times with my friends back in freshman year. Friends I haven’t spoken to in months. Friends I don’t particularly care to speak to again. The arcade was now dimly lit and pulsing with loud music, but still, I could play Pac-Man, and still, I was terrible at it.
As I got on my bike and started for home, I thought about what I’d learned from this wandering and decided that the past can hurt, but maybe the present can heal.
Lindsey Neeb is an aspiring journalist from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with plans to move to Toronto in 2020 (fingers crossed). In her free time, Lindsey is a dancer, a reader, and a daydreamer.