As we settled into our chairs and rattled off our drink orders, the restaurant’s speakers began to play I Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel, a song that came out in 1996, our sophomore year.
“It feels like I come back to Massachusetts and I’m back in high school,” I observed.
Except it’s not like that at all. When I came home last night the door was unlocked and the lights were on, but it was my husband waiting up for me, not my parents. And he wasn’t sitting there to smell my breath and make sure I hadn’t broken curfew, he was waiting up to hear my stories and give me a good night kiss.
Today at lunch we didn’t talk teachers and tests, Friday night plans and boys. We talked bosses and jobs, wedding plans and babies. But when the check arrives, we still pass it to the same person to compute the math, and we know who to ask to if we need chapstick. Fourteen years after we banded together as naïve freshman, we still know our places within the group – we’ve grown and matured, but haven’t outgrown each other.
The back of my bedroom door is now naked. Bare of everything except a small oval tile painted with a red rose and the words: Tiffany’s room. This tile used to be surrounded by collages made by friends, posters of Scott Wolf, Jonathan Brandis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Photos from dances, beach trips, and goof-around days used to paper my walls and frame my mirror. My bureau used to be buried below Bath and Body Works body splashes, tubs and tubes of Lip Smackers and the tiny paper triangles of intricately folded notes. The antique sewing desk where I pretended to study for bio and chem tests has been replaced by a massive table where my father stacks papers and tax files. My antique twin-sized sleigh bed has been upgraded for a you’re-now-married queen.
But the mural I painted the summer before I turned 16 is still on the wall. My ceiling still sparkles with the glitter thrown upon the painted clouds. The pink hoop-skirted, parasol holding doll lamp my father brought back from Paris when I was eight, still illuminates my bureau (and still sports the electric blue eyeshadow I painted on her at nine).
And there’s still a pink ribbon-tied brick on the floor directly inside the door. A brick from my high school, collected by my friends when our school was torn down and before the replacement structure was built. A brick tied with pink ribbon to remind me no matter how far I go from home, how much things change, and how long I’m gone, I still belong here.