As I pulled out of the car park, another car drove in. A sporty saloon in royal blue, with garish stickers on the side. The low hum of a high performance engine, increasing in pitch as the driver accelerated up the driveway; smooth tarmac giving way to the crunch of gravel. As I stop to let them through, the driver throws a half-hearted wave in my direction, but doesn't make eye contact. But she does - his passenger, with her head tipped back and arched in my direction as she dispenses a lingering sideways glance.
When I think back to this time, I think that the reason it is such a poignant memory is that, at that age you have those moments where you feel... wild. You don't have a sense of responsibility, of self-consciousness, of limitation. You don't care what happens tomorrow, next week, next year. You don't have a to-do list, a life plan, a savings account, a career path. I think the reason that so many of us have such fond memories of our teens is because it's perhaps the last time we were truly present and in tune with just being. That's not to say that my teenage years weren't full of angst, but they were full of feeling the things you're meant to feel - love, heartbreak, jealousy, joy, sadness, love, love, love. Not anxiety about having said the wrong thing in a meeting, or how many hours on the treadmill it will take to burn off that slice of pizza, or how to achieve the perfect instagram flat lay. The emotions that are felt by wild things, not things that have been tamed.
And so, I think the reason why that glance is jarring to me is because it represents something I no longer am. In our 20s and 30s we get the edges rubbed off, the sharp corners smoothed out. There is a lot that can be said for civilised contentment, for Orson Welles radio shows and knowing that your slippers and blanket are waiting for you at home. But maybe there is also something to be said for the wildness of youth, for reckless abandonment, and for nights spent riding in cars with boys.