I recently took a trip to the beach. I walked along the dock, looking out into the water and thinking that this was my last chance. My last chance to be young. My last chance to have one of those cliche summers. To not have an internship or job to worry about.
All of high school, I’ve been doing internships and volunteer work that I absolutely love. But I recently realized that in the midst of that, I hadn’t ever really been a teenager.
As I was walking back from the beach, I heard music crooning in the distance. When I approached my destination, two guys came into my field of vision. They were singing and playing guitar on their front porch. I looked at them, and thought about talking to them. But something stopped me. Something made me conclude my trip with that unfinished moment. With that moment that most people wouldn’t even classify as a moment. But to me, it was a story in the making. It was beautiful in its simplicity with the sound of the guitars and that guy’s voice and the beach behind us. With the sidewalks and the locals and the summer people. With that long dock that no longer felt like an end to me, but instead, a continuation of what I truly love. And it was then that I realized that I don’t always enjoy the “typical” teenage stuff. I’d rather interpret the beauty that I observe and write a story. I’d rather have the power to imagine than have every detail handed to me. I find most beautiful, unforgettable things when I’m not looking. When I’m not trying to create the perfect moment on the beach with the perfect people and this one final grand moment tied neatly into a bow to conclude all that I’ve done.
I’m getting older. But as I do, that dock doesn’t get shorter. The summer breeze doesn’t calm down. The journey doesn’t end here. I’m not lost. There’s still so much for me to find. Anywhere. Everywhere.
So I let the sound of the music fill my ears, crafting the kind of summer night that was so much better than I could’ve ever planned. It was the perfect moment. And I let it be just that; not thinking about what I’d do when it was gone or what came next. I was just there: the only place, in that moment, that I needed to be.
Tomorrow I’ll be revisiting the past, acquainting myself with a woman who I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s weird how the past repeats itself, even when everything has changed. Which is why it only seems fitting that I bring some magazines along with me.
The woman who I’m visiting tomorrow was the person who helped me discover my love for magazines. She bought me some while I was visiting because she didn’t want me to get bored, and I loved everything about them. I loved looking at the various outfit possibilities, splattered across the page like an infinite closet that made my nine year old heart swoon. I loved reading my horoscope, only hoping that I really would meet a cute guy at the beach and make a new best friend on the first day of school. I loved finding the reality that existed within the celebrities’ lives, making me forever believe that big dreams were possible. That they are possible.
For years to come, I’d buy all of the teen magazines I could possibly get. I would read them cover to cover, not just once, but possibly hundreds of times. The idea that things went out of style never settled well with me. I’d look at magazines that were years old, still taking equal amounts of inspiration from them. They were such a major part of my life that memories were locked within the pages; I could define time periods based on the publication dates of Girls’ Life and Seventeen. In fact, I can still page through those magazines and feel exactly how I felt during those times.
Despite this love for magazines, and my passion for writing, it had never occurred to me that I could become a journalist until I job shadowed at a local newspaper. I had always associated journalism with being overly dramatic and sensationalized. I had completely forgotten about all the stories that existed within the pages of a magazine, not just within the words, but within my fading memory that gets a little bit clearer every time I pick up the May 2008 issue of Twist. Without those magazines, maybe my big dreams wouldn’t exist. Maybe I’d try to settle for a “normal job”. For some people, magazines cause confidence issues. But they made me the dreamer I am now. And to think that maybe I wouldn’t be the same girl if I hadn’t been handed a copy of J-14 is a little bit strange, but also incredible.
Now that I’ve grown older, the same magazines don’t appeal to me. And yet still, I flip through the pages and enter a world full of moments and memories where my dreams aren’t that far away, but my past still resides. I’m moving forward. But I don’t plan on completely letting go of all the things and people and places that guided me here. All the pages of the magazines that made me start to write my own.