- Alexis Howells
Ode to Nostalgia
Now more than ever, I wish I could go back to the days when my babysitter saying “no” to my best friend Heidi coming over was my worst problem to face.
I miss the days when I’d come home from 3rd grade and have a snack, maybe watch an episode of Hannah Montana before running around outside with my neighborhood friends until our parents called us inside for dinner. I’d get excited for Mom to walk through the door, the dogs emphatically wagging their tails beside me and barking and scratching the door. I’d sneak onto the computer at night with a bowl of Neapolitan ice cream and play Animal Jam until my little eyelids became too heavy to hold open. Wake up the next morning to do it all again.
And then I got older, I grew into some places of my body but was still very short. My last night of Innocence (as Blake would call it), I remember, was when my friends and I went dancing at the sports arena like we did every Friday night. We’d head over to one friend’s house to pick our outfits, hair, and makeup. One’s parent would drop us off and another’s parent agreed to pick us up.
We entered the arena to colorful strobe lights on the dry ice rink where most of our friends from school were dancing. This circle of twenty-something-year-old dudes with bushes for facial hair, and muscles the size of soccer balls, came on to us, and they said we looked sixteen. We said No, we’re twelve. Well you look old for your age. Slasher smiles. We screamed with laughter and ran away, talking about it for the rest of the night.
I often think back to the days where my commute to school didn’t involve daily verbal harassment from unionized construction workers. The days where I didn’t need to leave the house with some sort of weapon to feel safe from strangers. Mom walked me to the bus stop every morning and kissed me goodbye. I’d spend the day coloring and glueing things at school, nap during reading time, then come home to my babysitter and do all the fun things I missed out on while learning.
Thinking about how my days once were, I could cry.
Every time I get catcalled, I think about those men at the arena. I think of where they came from, peering at young girls like a lion does its prey, waiting to pounce on the defenseless target. We were so young, but we didn’t know it then. In those pre-adolescent years we wanted to grow up sooner, be respected adults and make something of ourselves. We wanted boyfriends, to go to concerts, driver’s licenses, and fun phone cases from Claire’s. Now, I just want to exist in peace.
Art by Andrea Lastimosa