The Best Days Are Just Good Days and You Probably Don’t Remember A Single One
Updated: Feb 21
A friend recently posed a very pretty heavy question in an otherwise regularly frivolous group chat: "if I asked you all what was the best day of your life what would you say?"
That personalized set of cliche responses immediately filled up the majority of my thoughts. The day I got into college. The day I graduated college. The day I got my horse. The day I got to move that horse into the yard of my gracious neighbors so I could see her every day (conveniently the same day as my 23rd birthday, but inconveniently in the middle of the pandemic).
Except the more I thought about it, I struggled to justify the significance of each of these days as the best when held against the overall experience. I settled on an answer and it was none of the above.
All of the days that initially came to my mind were first in line because of the tangible thing I gained from those days. An opportunity. A diploma. A horse. A little farm of my own. But could I tell you what the experience of that actual day was like? Absolutely not. Was I happy for those 24 hours? No, I was probably stressed out for the first half and then maybe relieved for the latter. How could I possibly label that as the “best day of my life?” How could I label any of my 8538 days on this earth the absolute best?
The answer I have come up with takes a little more explanation than just a date, memory, or literal day of the week, however, I can say it was somewhere near mid-April 2020. Now go ahead and freak out, my absolute best day ever was in the middle of the pandemic. However, you really need to consider that I am defining the best day ever as a full 24-hours of positive vibes. I’m holding this very best day to the very highest of standards. That means no notable bouts of stress, anxiety, or chaos-planning are invited.
This day I probably woke up around 8 am and I went for a very average run around my then college campus. I likely only made it a few miles before deciding it would be nice to walk and enjoy the early signs of spring. After I returned home and the sweat dried I ate my standard breakfast: A coffee smoothie and slice of multigrain toast. Then I got dressed in my “horse clothes” and went to ride for the first time in almost a month. The barn had been closed due to COVID-19 and they were just now letting owners in during designated time slots.
I drove 20 minutes through those North Carolina backroads – an experience that can make even the worst of days seem pretty decent – and was greeted by my loving horse, Zara. After my ride, I hope I showered, but can’t quite remember this little hygienic technicality. At this point, there was definitely some country music playing from the humble speaker of my iPhone 5, the background music to the rest of my overall great day. An email notification came through – I was getting a foster cat later in the week. Finally, some companionship while my roommate was still quarantining back home in Chicago. I probably thought about doing a little school work, made some veggie-grain-bowl concoction for dinner, binged a few movies, and enjoyed a glass or two of pinot grigio before drifting off to sleep.
There were no fireworks displays, trophies, or piles of presents on the best day of my life. There was an overwhelming feeling of content, a tangible nugget of hope in the near future (aka a feline later known as Pamela), and a whole hell of a lot of simplicity. All the happiness I felt on that day can be partially replicated by a daydream. I can’t dredge up any of the feelings from all those monumental days I had considered first, the ones that were supposed to be so great, so defining. The memory of those days live in my mind as only sentence or two. I can't get caught up in the memory of those days because what is attached to it is so fleeting and superficial. The best day of my life can honestly be dredged up by thinking about those Carolina backroads.
I drive off campus and pass my favorite gas station – the one that's always cheap and never has a line (go ahead and make fun of me for having a favorite gas station). To my left are rows of houses with Beware of Dog signs and the one that used to have a Confederate flag out front, but does no longer. I pass by Birchwood mobile home park. It was here I interviewed a man named Ernest Melchesterway my sophomore year. He was homeless and didn’t live there, but sat in a lawn chair out front, every day from 3-5 pm and watched the cars go by.
I take a left turn past the school bus that had caught on fire, it now resides on the side of this road. I pass the house with the German Shepherd who is always out front. I noticed him freshman year amidst a bout of homesickness missing my own pups and have wanted to stop and pet him ever since. I pass over two rivers, the Haw which is always rushing, picturesque. and full of rocks, and some lesser one that is always muddy looking. Then it's the open road and no life for a few miles until I hit the church with the flashing billboard. Soon after I pass Landmark Baptist, whose sign boasts a clock that reads “It's time to be saved.” Every time I pass it I have to laugh a little. I take a few more left turns, never a right, and eventually arrive at the farm gates.
Even now, just thinking back to this drive, I have a smile on my face. For four years I took this same route, almost every day, no matter what was going on with school, the world, or my own personal life. I drove this route on some of the best days of my life and some of the worst. My destination, my horse, was a fool-proof form of self-care. Sometimes I would only have 10 minutes to spend with her, sometimes a few hours, but I always had those 20 minutes leading up to my arrival that became a mind-cleansing ritual itself. It was like meditating before yoga, stretching before a run, or pregaming dinner with a couple bites of ice cream.
The best day of my life is filled with moments like this that make me appreciate, reconsider, and learn to move past all the days that aren’t really the best. The best day of my life was one where looking back, I was bogged down in my past, present, and future simultaneously and somehow managed to not have a panic attack or total mental breakdown. The best day of my life was hopeful among the shitty ones, calming within the dumpster fire of the world, and reminiscent among the hoards of uncertainty to come. My best day ever is a day that can be replicated over and over again within different narratives and I think that makes it pretty damn great.