Published on May 23rd, 2015 | by Kelsey Beier0
“How are you feeling?”
“Good, thanks. How are you?”
This is my usual, casual dialogue between friends, coworkers, and even family. The truth is, in hindsight, I often wish I could change my answer, but there never seems to be enough time to explain, or the setting of the conversation seems out of place for any degree of richness. Of course, emotions are constantly changing, but lately I find a certain feeling constantly taking hold of me. So, let’s try this again, shall we?
“How are you feeling?”
“Nostalgic. And you?”
Nostalgia once came with a very negative connotation, and perhaps it still does. In earlier years, it was associated as a medical condition linked to melancholy or homesickness. Today, it is more acceptable to feel nostalgia and to reminisce about the past. My question, however, is how much nostalgia is okay before living in the present becomes bombarded with memories from the past?
For me, I think nostalgia comes in drones during the spring and summer months. Memories of early childhood experiences in school: dangling strings in the sewers in hopes of luring the Ninja Turtles, tricking the neighborhood kids with a rubber snake covered in toothpaste (to add effect) that slept with its eyes open, and making up dance routines in the sprinkler that were then forced upon our families.
Of course, 80s and 90s children tend to be more nostalgic about pop culture from the good ol’ days. It’s the reason why so many website lists make reference to The Adventures of Tintin, Young Robin Hood, Teddy Ruxpin, and The Raccoons. And don’t forget all of the cartoons from Saturday’s Disney Afternoon with Mike Sobel. Sometimes, our memories of Darkwing Duck, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummy Bears, and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers can brighten an otherwise dismal day.
On a deeper and more personal level, nostalgia brings back memories of my parents together, celebrating their life with a slew of mutual friends and family, my mostly carefree life as a child with an experienced and intelligent older sister to learn from, and the idea that absolutely anything is possible.
My latest bout of nostalgia includes memories of past trips, where I can almost take myself back to a particular city and moment in time and smell the humid air. I’m nostalgic for any moment I spent with my mom—even to sit in her living room and watch TV, or to eat one of her home cooked meals. I’m nostalgic for former summer memories camping with friends, or partying as a younger adult with limited actual commitments or repercussions for the day after.
I am completely aware that things will never be the same as they once were, and I am most fearful that they potentially will never be any better. How does one experience the present and live in the moment when they are so invested in the past?
One thing I do know is that I have met some amazing people in my recent life that were not a part of my past life, and these people have given me hope in looking forward to the daunting and unknowing future. I have also learned to embrace the relationships I still have today with friends and family, as you never know when these same people will become part of your past.
The other day, I gave myself a sliver while sorting popsicle sticks for my students at school. I remembered my mom’s strange love for removing mine and my sister’s slivers, nostalgia taking over when I remembered that she would never be able to remove this one or any future slivers. In the end, I removed it myself, and I felt very accomplished. “I can totally do this,” I thought to myself. I am completely capable of living and existing in my present life. But, in order to do so, I may need to take frequent trips back into my past…just for old times’ sake.