High schoolers look exactly the same. I see the one girl with brown hair, kind of awkward but charming, telling a story to her friends in the corner of the bagel shop and I remember everything- the black and white truth of adolescence, the first tentative heart expansions, ego crushing lines drawn differently one week to the next. The awkward girl gets to the punchline and her friends laugh, not because she's funny, but because they adore her, and for this moment in time, she belongs. Faithfully by Journey plays overhead and none of them notice because classic rock will remain lame and meaningless to them for another twenty years.
High schoolers look exactly the same UPDATE: I get a closer look and realize the brown haired girl IS ACTUALY ME 24 years ago, born of the same droplet of time-space but caught in a parallel vibration. I take her aside and tell her everything I need to say, "Smoking isn't cool! Stop starving yourself! Your parents love you, they're just idiots sometimes! Keep singing! Take that pottery class! Wait until you know you love him! Defer college one year and waitress in Montana!" But all that she hears is static and buzzing and mucousy belches. Tracy Chapman's Fast Car plays and I'm crying in front of a teenage stranger.
HOLY SHIT High schoolers look exactly the same UPDATE #2: We are all stuck inside the bagel shop because of the torrential frozen rain storm. The teenagers realize I am a ghost from the future dimension. I read their palms and tea leaves and teach them to meditate. We pray for pandas and the blinded people who clone pandas, we pray for bees and the blinded people who cover crops with insecticide, we circle sing and play charades and suddenly all of our phones start ringing at the same time: no one is on the other end, just echoes of our own voices. I notice an old woman watching us from the other side of the cafe; What A Wonderful World is playing and she is crying.
Sarah Elovich is a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA.