Tonight, I sat for a long time thinking about what I miss most about being young, and I spent a long time remembering back to the creative writing classes I took in college. The little glimpses into other people's lives, if only for a minute, or through what they were willing to share or how they were willing to share it. Sometimes, I sit quietly at a park and remember the girl who had curly hair who always wore long sleeves in the summer with dark secrets she didn't want to share, and I remember her story about a swing at the park and a young man who she realized had never promised her anything. Sometimes, I'm swinging with my son and I feel the pain in her voice as she freely announced it to the class when the air gets quiet and the trees are uncomfortably still.
Another girl always ended relationships after 14 days. I sometimes listen to couples argue in line at the grocery store, and I hear her voice, confident and strong, and I wonder if she'd ever find herself arguing with a partner in line at the grocery store over who needed to put their damn phone down because they forgot to get the sauce.
I remember the story I wrote where a character told a friend who tried hard to hold on to a lover that wasn't meant to be hers that the relationship had gone where she never wanted it to go and no matter what she wished for or tried for there was nothing she could do to change it back. I remember my teacher pulled me aside and told me a 19 year old couldn't know what that meant but that since I had said it she realized I could. Now that I'm older, I understand her anger. I understand how easy it is to forget that years don't always make us wiser. I understand that sometimes it hurts to hear painful words no matter how old we are or how much we try to make something or someone into something they are not.
I remember how slow and deliberate people read their own stories. I miss the voice that goes along with the stories. When words read the way they were meant to be read. The trembling, the authority, the weakness, the glimpses into the words beyond what they say on paper. The sly smiles, the awkward pauses, the concern, the arrogance, the grace, the insecurities I overlook or the author left out.
I miss the sound of the words from the person who meant to speak them. Or the sound of the words from the person who would never have spoken them out loud. I miss hearing words spoken out loud.