Freedom, in the modern American teenager vernacular, came to me 20 years ago. By freedom I mean, of course, high school graduation. Finally, my own man…FOR REAL! Well, at least sort of. I can almost recall the elation at the prospects which lay before me. I had plans…and alternate plans too…one way or another, things were going to be great. 20 years ago….the world was my oyster.

But not just my oyster alone. My friends and classmates were also jumping into the world, each in their own fashion, each in their own direction. Some were headed to college, others to the military. Some, like myself, went right to work in an attempt to support myself while I figured which plan to follow. Looking back on 20 years, I’m sure very few of us kept to the path we so headily envisioned. Life has a way of keeping things interesting.

Almost immediately after attaining freedom things began to go awry. At 18 years old, aspiration and reality are almost always at odds, and reality, unfeeling as a stone in its never ceasing march forward, usually wins out in the end. I never did go to college in Arizona or marry my high school sweetheart or travel around the world. I ‘ve never owned a BMW and I didn’t make a million bucks by the age of 30. I’m not really sure if I ever actually had a path to follow…I sure can’t remember what it looked like if I did. The basic outline above was about as far as I’d figured things…as if envisioning the goal magically made it real. Sweet reality.

My actual journey has actual details, steps along the path from there to here. It is filled with places and things I would never have imagined in those days after receiving my high school diploma. It has been my own adventure through life and it’s been fun. I might have done a thing or two differently. We all would. But here I am, 20 years later, and life is pretty good.

I don’t spend a lot of time looking back. I prefer to live in today, with half an eye on tomorrow. Not that I don’t enjoy some mental reminiscing now and again. It’s just that I don’t spend much time reliving what was already lived. It’s taken me a bit by surprise then to realize that I’m looking forward to doing just that. I’m curious to rekindle some of those ancient friendships and strengthen those that have endured. It’s been 15 years since I was even back in town. Came close 2 years ago, but turned east on the edge of town and never turned back. I’ve seen several of the guys over the years, but many of them not for almost 10. I want to hear about the paths my friends have taken since achieving their freedom, and I want to laugh at the insanity of our shared youth. I want to raise a beer, swing a club, share a photo, eat a pizza….I want to grab a piece of yesterday and hold onto it for just a few hours. And I’m so surprised by this, really surprised.

So off I go, like a time traveler, to a time 20 years removed and a place that holds so much of who I am today. The combination of 20 year old memories paired with 20 years older faces will be interesting, I’m sure. And while we can’t ever really relive our youth, I think that this might be close enough. Because really…who wants to it all over again anyhow?