August 9, 2015


I can still smell the campfire smoke. We were all gathered around the fire pit, sitting in camping chairs, my friend Peter playing Pink Floyd on his acoustic guitar.

Blue plastic cups filled with sugary margarita mixes. Dirt between my toes. Skinny. Wild hair.

Me and a handful of friends would take camping trips every so often in my early twenties. We’d pile in Pete’s van, listen to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and cruise out somewhere with no wi-fi and no real plans in mind. Except of course, for sitting around and drinking. And occasionally jumping in the river.

It was hot, and it was grimy, but those days are some of my favorite memories from that time of my life. There was so much laughing I thought my head would split. We fought over who had to clean up the shit it took to make turkey burgers. We argued over how to set up the tent. We videotaped scorpions, and made fun of each other’s snoring.

It was us. We may not have been 100% happy, but we understood each other. We were mostly free to do what we wanted. We had work and relationships, but we always made time for Heineken, poker, and video taping. And lots of pictures. And I gotta tell you, way too much laughing. I think I laughed enough for the rest of my life when I was with them.

I talk about friends in this post because I don’t know how I would have survived without them this past decade, and there’s a noticeable drifting apart as we see each other less and less often. They were my everything. They didn’t even know they were doing it, but they made me feel better every time we were together. Being with them was like being on a distant planet, where you could do or say whatever you wanted, and there was no restriction on anything you had to be or do. It was just free.

Nowadays I am still friends with these friends. I’ve lost a couple, which hurts, but for the most part, we are still friends. There’s just so little time to hang out anymore. We used to talk about how we’d never lose touch, but we have. Seeing each other even once a month is a rarity, and that also really hurts.

It’s nobody’s fault. A lot of us are scattered around the city at odd jobs, trying to make sense of our lives. There are family events and priorities. But as I step into this new decade, I’m starting to realize that things aren’t going to be like they used to, probably not ever again. We won’t be young and wild again. We’ll be young and reserved. We’ll be here, but distracted.

And there doesn’t seem to be any clear reason why this has to happen. Adulthood just creeps up on you, and suddenly no one has the time anymore to play poker and drink beer. Trips and dinners have to be planned 3 weeks in advance. Money is a big issue. Time is precious.

This happens to a lot of people, but I get especially reminiscent when I think about those campfire days, and the current days. So much has changed, without a lot of us really changing, and it makes my head spin. It makes me wonder if those wild and carefree days are over, or if they’re just hiding for awhile. But it’s probably the only thing that really makes me feel sad about the coming decade, and one of the things that really makes me miss being young.

I was a different human back then, and probably for good reason. I didn’t know about the now. I didn’t love myself at all. I cared a lot about what people thought of me, but I did laugh my ass off.

If there was any moment in time I could go back to in my twenties, it would be then. It would be Lake Isabella. Sweaty, slapping bugs, singing around the campfire, and peeing in the bushes. I hope you’re ready for this cliche, but it’s the only one that works here: you don’t recognize who you have in your life until you never see them anymore.

Are there any friends you lost along the way to thirty-hood? Do you ever sit back and wish you could go back to those days? And maybe my last question for this post is to the people who are already out of their thirties–are the wild and carefree days with your friends truly over? I think I might know the answer to that! Haha.

Thanks for reading! This post is part of a 30 days to 30 series, read all about it here

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Monique Muro

Monique is an exceedingly happy human from LA. She runs the blog A Novel Quest, and writes. A lot.

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