To Be Young (Is to be Sad, is to Be Alive)

Something inside me tells me not to write this post. And today is the day I’ve set aside to ignore that overly analytical voice of reason. Although I’m 99% positive the one in this story won’t actually read it, I’m scared. If I do hear that he’s read this, look forward to a detailed description of my mortification. Until then, here is the follow-through on my year-old promise to be bold.

I think pretending to under appreciate moments is an art we millennials have mastered. “Show us how much you don’t care,” the world dares. But all we are ever promised is a moment. This moment. And if a moment is all you have, then that fissure in time is absolutely everything. On a Tuesday night 2 weeks ago, I was in my own such moment- the kind I only dreamt about or melted over in indie movies, but has become increasingly frequent the further I get from home. I swear those few hours passed in hues of sepia, black, and white.

It was 6:55pm, and I nervously kicked my Chucks against the legs of my barstool at this little coffee shop tucked behind a Shell station, watching the fog creep down the window and toward his MacBook Pro. I tried to wipe the condensation away with my hands, which of course only made it worse.

“So what are you doing after this? Maybe there’s a good show tonight.”

We spent the next 3 minutes staring deep into the eyes of our BandsinTown apps, searching for an excuse not to leave alone.


“Sorry guys, we’re closed.”

I thought it odd that a coffee shop, whose sole purpose of business is to keep people awake, would close at 7pm on a Tuesday. But I didn’t say anything.

Our musings continued to the parking lot where we kicked our feet around some more, and after commenting that I might die if I stood too long in the cold, we decided I would hang out at his place.

Daddy, if you’re reading this, “hang out” is not code for anything like “Netflix and Chill”.  It literally just means hang out. That is all.

I digress.

The moment began when I rang his doorbell in East Nashville, took a breath and step back, and stared up at the sky and stars that framed the night and that porch and that little blue house, and me in the center. He opened the door, and I hope I smiled as I stepped inside and began to soak it in.

Fast forward past small talk about paint colors and the kitchen cabinets  and this perfect example of how painful small talk is with me when all I can think to comment on is THE WALL.

Crosslegged and poking my fingers through the holes of his crocheted quilt, I forgot I had trained myself to be immune to moments like this- the ones where a longhaired, heavy heart romantic plays me his new songs that always end too soon.

But I forgot because the songs were beautiful, and their artist was leaning on the piano across from me, intermittently watching the floor and watching me as I listened.

“I can’t believe I get to be here.”

Later we laughed and talked about music and our hometowns and Ryan Adams argued with David Rawlings, telling us what it is to be young and sad. But I already knew.

It’s beautiful.

The night ended too soon, as perfect nights always do. I left with an intimate picture of the streets of a small town in North Carolina and the knowledge that lightning can strike in the same place twice. If all my life amounts to is a collection of these black and white polaroid moments, I’ll cling tightly to my pictures and always remember that

“These moments are not just stories. This is happening…you are alive.”

And it will be everything.




  1. Hi Ashton!
    I’m friends with Bay Burgess (Brooks). I just wanted to tell you that I read your blog per Bay’s request and it is beautiful. Your writing is incredible. I will definitely keep reading!! Thank you for writing these things… I hope you keep it up.
    (P.S. I hate to be “that guy”, but if you feel like checking out my blog, I would love it. Thanks so so much!)
    God bless & xo,
    Caroline Watkins

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