As a middle schooler, what could be more fun than gathering all your best friends at your house for water balloon fights, Wii Sports, pizza parties, and a night of staying up past bedtime and spilling secrets to one another?
As childish as it may seem now, it was the best way I could think of back then to spend my birthday. I’d watch my friends pull up to the driveway one by one in their parent’s cars, and we’d wave at each other excitedly as if we hadn’t seen each other in years; in reality, it’d only been a few days since we last met up.
We’d wait until everyone arrived before booting up the Wii and challenging each other to games of Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution. When we got tired, we’d race to the backyard and start filling up water balloons, chatting amongst ourselves about the most trivial things. Once we finished up the preparations, it was time for the annual water balloon fight to begin. After we got too tired to continue, we’d take a shower, and my mom would be back with pizza, fried chicken, and fries. We’d watch a movie during dinner, then head upstairs to have hours of conversation, ignoring our bedtimes and watching the sunrise.
It was a tradition that began in fifth grade. For some reason, it felt like it continued for longer than four years, but by the end of eighth grade, I had to move away from my hometown of Shanghai to California. Saying goodbye to my friends was hard, but at the time, I was convinced that we’d always be friends and that I’d be able to create newer, similar traditions with new friends in America.
I only realized my naivete once I was halfway through high school because distance created gaps within my friendships that no amount of love could fill. Slowly, everyone began to part ways, moving onward to their own futures. I, somehow, was always stuck in the past, reminiscing about traditions that everyone had already forgotten about.
Now, as an adult, I find myself more lost than ever. But if there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that the time I spent with my best friends in Shanghai was the best time of my life, even if it’s destined to be buried in our pasts forever.
If it’s possible, I’d wish to revisit those nostalgic traditions, become a naive child again, and return to those happier days.