When I was in high school, my parents bought a 1990 Chrysler Lebaron Convertible that became my first car. I loved the car, especially in the warmer weather when my friends and I would lower the top, drive around and sing, carefree.
I remember one of these carefree afternoons. Car top down, I had driven towards the beach to pick up my friend Ellen. As we headed back across town, probably back to my house, traffic became really heavy. It seemed that the entire local highway was spilling onto all of our local roads. We were basically parked on Main Street for hours. Thinking back on this day, I don’t ever remember being annoyed. I just remember the fun Ellen and I had as we blasted the radio, sang and danced along. The idle time didn’t seem to bother us in the least. We were young and had nowhere we really needed to be.
Sitting in the car that day, I remember hearing Avril Lavigne’s song, “Complicated,” for the first time ever. I remember Ellen and I picking up on the words really quickly, and singing along. We ended up hearing that song a few times on different stations that afternoon, stuck in traffic. Each time was a celebration and opportunity to sing and be silly.
Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?
I see the way you’re acting like you’re somebody else
Gets me frustrated
Life’s like this, you
And you fall, and you crawl, and you break
And you take, what you get, and you turn it into
Honesty and promise me I’m never gonna find you fake it
No, no, no
No, no, no
No, no, no
No, no, no (no, no)
Whenever I have heard this song, in the nearly 20 years since that afternoon, I’ve always been brought back to that warm summer day singing away with Ellen in my high school car.
Last week, Ellen wrote me out of the blue and told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. For some reason, my mind once again went back to this moment in time. It feels like just yesterday that we were 17, without any real worries or responsibilities.
I wish I could take us back there, when life was less complicated.