Right before I first moved to Hungary, I was obsessed with Replay Blue Jeans. I never cared too much about brands before, even though I loved some and loathed others, but I was equally happy wearing something I’d found in a thrift shop, regardless of the brand. Replay was different. My brother and his friends all wore Replay, and being younger, I naturally emulated them whenever I could.

It wasn’t just the clothes or the brand. It was their lifestyle. Forget what the ad sold you, or tried to sell. I witnessed them living the dream every day of the week. It was there in the tips they left, the way they spontaneously decided to go here and there, and it was most definitely there in the stories they told. They were young, wild, and free. My brother is five years older, and at that time I was still in high school.

The fact that they all accepted me merely added to the allure. I wasn’t just partying with the cool crowd, if we showed up somewhere I was seen as a legitimate member of their group. No outsider questioned my status with them, and the insiders all knew who I was and looked out for me. For someone who never had a core group this was bliss.

And that’s what Hungary signified to me, a sense of belonging, of being a little different but still being able to belong. The ad came at the perfect time. I was already then obsessed with the ideal of the circus life, and the chain gangs of the Deep South, the old blues songs and gospels, too. It all came together in this one short clip, none of which had anything even remotely to do with our aspirations or our lives, yet personifying everything about it just the same in one perfectly executed mini-movie, the equivalent of a few seconds of your life.

A lot has happened since then. With some we ended up going our separate ways, others are no longer with us. Yet others are still around; some of those have become entirely different people, going into professions you wouldn’t associate with them in your wildest dreams.

But every time I see that advert or think about it, that’s what I remember, those good, happy times, those yet unfulfilled dreams. And then I want to wrap the person I was that year, that time around me as if she were a cloak, so that I never forget. Because she was pretty damn cool. We all were.


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