I literally grew up on 4th avenue, a little street full of shops and restaurants and bars, in the middle of the city where I grew up. 4th avenue is one of those streets you can find anywhere, a place unique from the rest of the town and yet the same no matter where you go. When I was eleven we lived 4 blocks from the avenue and it was the first place I was allowed to walk to by myself. When I was sixteen my friends and I would take the bus there everyday after school to loiter and try to procure cigarettes. When I was twenty I got my first job on the avanue and I couldn't have been more excited. For the better part of the eight years I worked at that little cafe my life was filled with debauchery. While 4th avenue certainly boasts some excellent restaurants and interesting shops, its primary draw is its bar scene. With a ratio of two bars to every one streetcorner the avenue offered an imbibing environment for every taste. Needless to say in those years I spent on the avenue I developed what could be called a professional drinking career. I frequented several watering holes where everybody knew my name and the bartenders were all my friends. Debauchery ensued around every corner, there were drinks and drugs and all the casual sex you could ever ask for. It was, in a word, a lot of fun. On every side of me were others just like me, all of us stunted somehow in our journey towards adulthood, living life as though on the whims of a child. We lived for the moment and indulged in every child like desire, it was hard to see any consequences when every one around you mirrored your image back to you. It felt like we'd all live that way forever, but isn't that the great illusion of youth. Eventually even the most resistant of us grow up, and make room for the next generation. I eventually got a better job and moved away from the avenue. I stopped needing drugs and alcohol to give me a sense of belonging. I stopped needing meaningless sex to feel loved. My life today isn't as fun as it once was, but its a hell of a lot more rewarding. The problem with growing up is that the playgrounds of your youth often lie just around the corner. Sometimes I still go down to 4th avenue, and marvel at how young the new generation looks to me. I sometimes sit in a crowded bar I used to frequent watching others do just as I did. Sometimes I even feel nostalgic for the life I used to live, and the fun I used to have. Sometimes I'm on the avenue and I wonder what it would be like to go back to that old life. I've concluded as of late that the feelings I get when I go back to that street are just like the feelings you get from seeing an old lover. Part of your heart aches for something that was once so important to you and has since ceased to be a thing. Part of you wishes you could be together just one more time, entertaining the illusion that it could ever feel the same. In the final analysis however there are reasons that you've moved on, and it would mean nothing but self destruction to fall again into those arms. In the final analysis you've grown so much, and he is still right where you left him. Strolling down that avenue of my youth I stop to ponder all of this over a cup of dairy queen soft serve. As I'm eating my ice cream it suddenly occurs to me that not even it is as sweet as I remember. Oh but how the mind can play tricks on us with the shadows and mirrors. Part of your heart aches because you know there's nothing left for you here.