Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Dave Matthews on a Friday Night

It may have been because the sun had just fully set. Or maybe it was the effect of the street lamp, or the fact that the new spring grass was so absurdly, verdantly green that it didn’t look real, but this is what my neighborhood looked like last night at about 8:30pm. 

It was beautiful. Surreal. A little trippy, actually. 

My neighbors were out in their yard, blasting Dave Matthews Band as I walked my dogs. The air was quickly cooling and the purple-tinged sky was dotted with stars. 

“Under the Table and Dreaming” began to play and I was suddenly transported back to what it felt like to be 19.

I took a deep breath and sucked it into my lungs. 

It’s spring, it’s freedom, it’s Friday night. It’s the tangible feeling of being on the cusp of summer.

The surging, exciting uncertainty of what *might* happen tonight, because something in the air makes it feel like something *will* happen.

It’s intoxicating. I feel almost buzzed, but better. Technically sober but floating a little, drunk on the ephemeral magic of being young.

I remember when Friday nights felt like this, so full of possibility. It’s been many years since those Fridays were mine. They belong to another generation now. 

I’m so happy to have had them and for a while, I missed them. I know now they were never meant to last. They were meant to remember.

There’s a neurological explanation for why these vivid memories and feelings have stuck with me for so many years. It’s called “the reminiscence bump.” 

When we reach late adolescence, our developing brains have just produced more dopamine receptors than we’ve ever had before - and perhaps more importantly- than we’ll ever have again. 

The experiences we have at that time - riding with our friends, music blaring and windows down, kissing someone for the first time, the ice cream you share with them - create these intense, visceral memories. They do so because the pleasure they evoked hit a peak that’s impossible to forget, or surpass.

Because we had never felt anything so intensely. And we likely never would again. 

It’s why the music, movies, tastes, and smells from that time remain important to us throughout our lives. It’s why no strawberry ice cream will ever taste as good.

It’s why elderly patients with dementia can still sing you every lyric of the song they danced to with their sweethearts, though they’ve forgotten the names of their children.

It’s why we can occasionally, when the stars align, still feel a bit of that magic, that ghost of a dopamine high from our youth.

Last night, briefly, I did. It blew through me like a breeze.

It was good, and it was gone. 

I felt no urge to chase it and beg it to stay a little longer. And I sent it off with a blessing for whoever would receive it next.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2021

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