Anyone can be thrown down memory lane by the sight of a once-upon-a-time best friend, a few measures of a special song, or a simple whiff of a familiar smell. This past weekend, I had all of that and more.

On Wednesday, I flew from Vegas to Grand Rapids, Michigan alone, without my husband, Andrew. Other than my clothes and my Macbook pro, I arrived without a significant indicator of my new life, or at least my life post-Midwest habitation. My dad picked me up and drove to my family’s house in Portage, about an hour away.

The house isn’t the one I grew up in, so it doesn’t really feel like “home” but within minutes, the scent of sesame oil popping in a pan full of thinly sliced beef and white onions filled my nose, and I was suddenly drowning in memories. My mom was making my favorite meal, and if I knew what the real, authentic name of the dish was called, I’d tell you. I’ve always just called it “yum-yum” (pretty sure it’s a Vietnamese).

I spent some time catching up with my family, and the next day my sisters and I decided to go to the mall. As they came down the stairs, Lindsey in her black tights and loose sweater, and Liv in her black jeans and t-shirt, I noticed that they both have a distinct and equally adorable style. If I could sum it up, I’d say Lindsey is preppy chic, and Liv is supermodel emo. Anyway, they are far from the days when I used to come home from college, and they’d run upstairs and put on anything they had that would resemble the outfit I was wearing. Once, we couldn’t leave the house until Olivia found her white skirt so that she could match the one I was wearing. Lindsey put one on too. It was the cutest damn thing ever.

My sisters are all grown up now!!! (Me, Lindsey, my Mom, Olivia)

Lindsey, the middle sister who’s 18, drove us to the mall (the only one in town). I still can’t believe she can drive. The stores were different, but the mall mostly looked the same. My friends and I used to have our parents drop us off (obviously at the back of the parking lot so no one would see us) to “hangout” for a few hours, but without any money to spend, we were mostly just looking for hot guys. I found one there once and his name was Logan Thomas. He went to a different middle school, but everyone knew of him. He had a great smile, he was a talented athlete, AND he played the piano!! Whooo hoo! (We ended up going to high school together, and he turned out to be one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He’s somewhere in New York now, making a living playing piano, likely still swooning the ladies.)

On Friday, I left Portage and drove down to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’d made this drive so many times. Two hours later, I arrived at a Catholic Church with no shoes on yet… Should I wear my thigh-high boots or my black heels? Hmmm… well, the boots show way less skin. I’ll go with that. (Wrong answer: Apparently, I wore hooker boots into the church. Whoops)

I walked in and saw my girl, Nicole. We’ve been best friends since college (and I can never say this without thinking about Lynn – they must be tied now), and she was getting married. She looked great. Just the sight of her reminded me of so may stories – eating ice cream cake until we got sick, kicking soccer balls into each others vag’s (yeah you read that right – we called it “Giner-ball”), driving to a city 45 min away super hungover to drop off the keys to my car that had blown up there, only to find that I’d forgotten to bring them, and winning a pillow fight in Windsor, Canada (ahhh wish I could tell that story). Now, she has a baby, and she’s married. Oh my, how time flies.

The wedding rehearsal and ceremony went smoothly (aside from a few profane outbursts by me—sorry, I have a potty mouth, shit), and then it was time for the reception. Our soccer coach was there, as were a few girls from our team and a couple of the guys from the men’s team. At one point, we were all gathered at the bar, trying to convince the bartender to give us whiskey shots. She ended up giving us watered down whiskey sours, but hey, we didn’t complain. After all, it was with these people that I used to drink $10 gallon bottles of McCormicks vodka or $12 30-packs of Keystone light. Anything this bartender could hand me is miles better than that (ugh, I’m barfing in my mouth a little just thinking about it).

We raised our plastic cups and said cheers. A flicker of sadness could be found in all of our eyes. We used to do this on a regular basis five years ago. All of us used to be so close — studying together, dragging one another to class, and going on soccer road trips. Now, most of us rarely speak. We all have our own “grown up” lives with real jobs, careers, and husbands/wives. Gone are our carefree college days…

The rest of the night consisted of more shots, some karaoke, and woozy dancing. I got drunk, passed out at a friend’s house and slept in the same bed as another soccer girl. Ahhh just like old times.

The next morning, I had brunch with Nicole. We’re still close despite the distance, and most importantly, we play “Giner-ball” every chance we get. I miss her all the time.

I then drove back to Michigan. Hours before I left to go back home to Vegas, I had lunch with a couple of old friends, Maggie and Scott, who was my high school boyfriend. They’re good friends, and when he saw that I was in town on Facebook, he thought it’d be good to catch up. We talked about our lives, work, and gossiped about what people from high school are doing now.

When it came time to get on a plane, I was more than ready to get back to Vegas. During the flight though, I reflected on my weekend. I missed high school, I missed college, I missed soccer, and I missed… being young… er, than I am now…

After landing, I was so excited to see Andrew, I literally tripped over my feet in a rush to get outside. I anxiously stood at passenger pickup, and as soon as I saw that silver Prius pull up with my pup’s face out the window and my gorgeous husband in the driver seat, I knew I was really home. It hit me that even though I miss those earlier times, I would never actually go back to them if given a choice. My life right now just so perfect, and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it. It’s so amazing, I often feel guilty. I know that in a few years, I’m going to look back at this time in my life and feel just as, if not more, nostalgic than I did this weekend.

When the kids go off to college (they effing better go), I’ll say to Andrew, “Baby, remember when we were newlyweds living on the Strip in Las Vegas? We traveled the world, partied in the most amazing places with incredible friends, and had the best dog anyone could ask for?” We’ll kiss, and he’ll say, “I remember, my love. I miss those times.”

If there’s any wisdom I’ve acquired with age, it’s that we’re always going to miss something, whether it’s people, places or certain times in our lives. All we can do is try and relish every moment we can because they instantly become memories… ones that you’ll inevitably miss.

And one more thing I wanted to share… When Andrew and I were packing to move to Veer Towers in City Center, we came across a bag full of mementos. I pulled out a piece of crumpled, white construction paper folded hotdog style. On the front, it said KRISTY BABY in bubble letters, colored in with crayon. We sat down together in our soon-to-be-ex closet, opened it, and ended up in tears.

Now before you read it, I’ll preface you with some background information. This was a Christmas card Andrew made for me in December 2006. In January 2007, we were scheduled to pack our lives into both of our cars and drive to Las Vegas. We had no money, and no solid job prospects.

And one more thing — I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and I’m counting this blog in my word count (I DO WhAT I WANT).