My ties still hang on the back of the closet door. That Less Than Jake record, still in its frame, still hanging just to the right of my bed. It’s been five years and not much about this room has changed. It’s weird coming back here sometimes.

Tonight has that perfect mixture of everything needed to bring me right back to the end of any year of high school.

Driving down Reisterstown Road. The reddish-pink sunset that seems to last longer than it should. The graduation messages on marquis… wisdom from business owners to kids who just want freedom.

You know that feeling? Another nine months of teenage insecurity coming to a close. The reckless, magical summer, sliding in. That feeling…part bittersweet, as you realize that next year is going to be different, that nothing stays the same forever. 

The nostalgia of knowing that the past year, everything you did was just you figuring it out as you went along. It was exciting and scary, amazing and nerve-wracking.

The older kids are graduating and leaving. You’re moving up; getting older. New people, new challenges.

Your brain plays through all of the unforgettable moments that happened this year: The smell of grass in August as you walked to your first day of practice. The late nights in your friends’ basements. The kisses. The heartbreak. Classes where time seemed to move slower than usual. Getting drunk for the first time. That girl that you’ve been chasing for what seems like forever. The fights with your parents. That championship you won.

And you just want to go back to where it’s safe. Go back to what you already know, where you can romanticize the things you’ve already done. And you know you can’t.

Nights like these are filled with an apprehension and something like closure. Because you know bigger expectations lie ahead.

“Here’s to the Night,” by Eve 6 is playing somewhere. Or “Soco Amaretto Lime,” by Brand New.

You walk through empty school buildings after everything is over and look around, as your brain replays the memories vividly.

You see your friends from soccer in the hallway. The guys that you high-five every day as you walk to fourth period. The seniors that seemed so big when you were 15 and the freshmen who seem so small when you’re 18. You see yourself sitting in the freshmen Dean’s office, getting scolded for something you thought was cool then, but seems so stupid now.

I hope you understand that these buildings were always filled with ghosts. Our early legacies. Every ghost, a part of a chapter of growing up. Where you learn by doing and usually by doing it wrong.

Part of me misses those days and their simplicity. Another part of me is happy because those chapters are closed. But I love nights like these because I get to reminisce.

You know the summer always brought in those wild and reckless breezes and in the backseat we just tried to find some room for our knees. And in the backseat we just tried to find some room to breathe.