Just the other day I said to someone, I didn't make a lot of mistakes when I was young, I've got some free passes I need to cash in.
Which isn't true of course, I made big mistakes. Life-altering mistakes. The sort of mistakes that when someone asks you how you came to figure this-or-that out and you say the school of hard knocks and they say no, that can't be right, you're too young, they are both right and wrong--age being a funny and deceptive thing--not nearly as linear as we'd like to believe.
It's just that, when I was young, I didn't drink too much or stay out too late or follow the wrong men home. I didn't do what others would perceive as foolish and messy.
My mess was a private sort of thing.
But with age and a little knowledge there is some real joy to be found in making those mistakes now.
I doubt my Saturday night was anything like a typical prom. I got ready sitting in front of my brother's microwave and doing my hair in its reflection (of all the places in his apartment it was the best mirror, with the best lighting). We went to dinner early, followed by drinks and pictures in a friend's apartment before heading to the Fairmont.
I got drunk very early in the night. Which, I must tell you, while not calculated, worked brilliantly. While everyone still had their wits about them, I seemed very fun. It also meant, I drank mostly water 10 pm and on and so awoke without a hangover.
There was much dancing and laughing and a fair amount of shenanigans at the ball (prom)--we may very well have been the only group with a to-do list that included icing people, getting rejected by better looking members of the opposite sex (more attractive as voted on by 70% of the group), and making it rain $2 bills (this sadly did not happen...something for next time).
It was at two-thirty in the morning when I found myself trailing behind my brother and his group of friends up a steep hill at the back end of Beacon Hill, four boxes of large pizzas, our finest dress clothes in various stages of disarray, and I had the thought: this is youth. This is something like youth.
It was one of those moments where the image is so clear: a group of friends trekking up a hill as the night lightly sifts out snow, and the only sound are heels on cobblestone and the sort of laughter born of comfortable friendships and too much wine. An image of youth. A tableau of youth. One of those moments that as it's happening you find yourself mentally crossing it off life's to-do list, not even knowing it was on there until you stumbled into it.
Youth and follies and time. And none of it linear.
Stumbling home through the snow, too late, and with a group of near-strangers-now-friends--god, I can only hope more of life unfolds with as much mess and grace as that moment.