The Nostalgia Is Dead

Today, I found myself in my hometown.

I always thought revisiting the places I grew up in would overwhelm me with nostalgia, to the point I might get teary-eyed. Turns out my brain doesn’t care.

I was able to recognize several street names, I remember what the city looked like – I knew when I wasn’t in the town I work in anymore – and I could recall the inside of some buildings like the public library and the elementary school I attended. Some areas felt like they should be familiar, but I couldn’t place if I’d been there or not.

As strange as it sounds, I’m a little sad I didn’t have nostalgia. Ultimately, driving through my hometown didn’t feel much different than driving through other towns. The faint feeling of familiarity was the only difference.

Since I am nostalgic about some things from my childhood, I can’t help wondering why not even driving past my elementary school triggered feelings. Have too many years passed? Is it that I don’t remember most of my childhood? Is it because most of what I do remember is negative?

The things I’m nostalgic for are trivial; playing in the sandbox with my friends (whose full names I still remember) in kindergarten, cartoons and sitcoms I grew up watching that are off the air, playing on the playground without thinking it’s weird, my pet cat (I haven’t had another pet since he died), being able to climb and hoisting myself to the top of street signs, the many kid websites I used to play with (all but one – Neopets – no longer exist). The major things – like family and school – are experiences I’d prefer death to reliving. In fact, as I passed the other end of the sidewalk the school is on, I had one such thought: “Oh, there are the bushes my grandmother used to break switches off and beat me with.”

As I type that, another memory that immediately comes to my mind is my mother screaming at me “Have you been acting like that” and smacking me with a belt.

With those thoughts, maybe it isn’t so surprising nostalgia didn’t happen. Maybe the lack of nostalgia is my mind’s way of being protective. My very first childhood memory is a traumatic event. Maybe that shaped a part of me.

In my own mind, my life started at age four. The second memory after that first one is walking into preschool. I have more memories from kindergarten, but regardless, it’s hard to believe that small girl is now a centimeter shy of 5’4″. Though I can recall fragments of my childhood, I cannot recall being so small. I don’t feel like I was, despite I know I was.

Even my high school years have mostly faded from my mind, though again, I wonder if it’s a self-conscious protection because I hated my school years.

It’s said nostalgia makes the past seem better than it was. Perhaps that why I didn’t have any nostalgic feelings as I drove through my hometown. Because although I truly miss some things, I know the past was not better than the present, and nostalgia is not enough to filter it.

Or maybe it’s that nothing is really there for me anymore. I don’t have friends or family there to visit, I don’t work there, and any travel there would merely be passing through. Maybe I moved on without noticing. Maybe it’s that adulthood has uncovered family secrets I didn’t know during childhood.

Am I thinking too much about this? Most likely. I can’t say the past doesn’t matter because it built me into who I am. That past is part of why, for example, I don’t want to be a parent (although the present certainly tops the list of reasons!). The present is depressing and I believe the near and far future is dim. I’m unsure what does matter.

But since my attempts to part with this world never saw light outside of my head, my only choice is to see it.

It seems I will.

 

The Best Years

Something I often say is if I were given a choice between death and reliving my childhood, I’d choose death. For the most part, my reason is, to put it simply, my childhood sucked. It sucked enough that I was first suicidal at age ten, spent nearly my whole adolescence fighting against those feelings, and was often wishing I had died in infancy. I have never said I had the worst childhood, but it’s certainly not worth repeating.

However, even if I didn’t have to experience the abuse and dysfunction, I feel like I’d still choose death over childhood. Being totally honest, childhood is much cuter and more fun as an outsider viewing it than as an insider living it. I could write out a list of reasons, but the main one is powerlessness.

As a child, you have no control over your life, and that’s true no matter how amazing your childhood is. Outside of the dysfunctional aspect, one of the things I hated most about my childhood is we moved every year. I hated moving and to this day, I still loathe it, but as a child, what was I to do? I had no choice in where I lived, what school I attended, or where I moved to. I had a choice in absolutely nothing, and knowing you are powerless against something (or someone) feels awful, no matter how supportive those people are.

I couldn’t do that. I could not return to a time where someone had full and total control over my life, even if that person was the most loving in the world (she wasn’t, but that’s not the point). Childhood is essentially a luck of the draw. If you’re lucky, that powerlessness isn’t often a deterrent in you having a happy life until adulthood, and you’ll wish for it back when you are an adult because it was that enjoyable. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll consider yourself lucky for having survived it in the first place.

The only thing I could say I really miss from my childhood are certain cartoons and the familiarity of some locations. Those are nowhere near enough to make me consider my childhood worth anything. I’d burn all of my years before age 17 into oblivion if possible, and the only reason I’m even choosing the age of 17 is it’s how old I was when I met my best friend, who I continually call the only good I got out of high school. Without her, I’d burn every year before meeting my boyfriend, which would start my life at the very beginning of 2015, four months before my 21st birthday.

It’s akin to the expression of how one’s high school years are the best of their life. Without the existence of my best friend, I’d burn them to the ground, and the school along with them. They weren’t the worst years of my life, but I don’t consider them anything worth reliving.

My 20s so far are shaping up to be nice, so perhaps when I reach 30, I’ll call them the best years of my life and consider them well reliving. For now, however, nothing in my life I can remember, besides meeting the two most important people I’ve already mentioned, is worth reliving. Is that really a bad thing? Maybe, or maybe not. Since reliving the past is impossible beyond hallucination, it’s a moot point.

Best Days of 2013

In less than 24 hours, 2013 will have finally ended and 2014 will be upon us. This year as a whole has been less than good, but some days and events happened that I want to recall. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve Grown Up – I Just Still Have Fun

I once wrote a post about how I’ve never had a sleepover with friends and planned on doing that sometime in my twenties. But why do we need articles like this anyway?

I still enjoy plenty of things from my childhood. Bubbles, coloring, cartoons, an Etch-A-Sketch if I ever find one again. Why does growing up mean you have to give up what you love because you’ve reach that age, whatever it might be? I’m not saying I’d approve of a 50-year-old jumping into a ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s (although a private one is fine) nor am I saying that there’s anything wrong with outgrowing your childhood pleasures…but that’s just it. Outgrowing something is not the same as giving it up because you’re deemed too old for it. The former is a natural loss of interest while the latter is the result of a judgmental society.

Even in media, especially in children’s shows, growing up is represented as meaning you can never have fun again. I’ve met people who believe this. As an adult, you’re supposed to work almost all hours of the day and be ready to collapse from exhaustion, but have little time for rest because you have to take care of the housework and, if you have them, pets and/or kids. You’re supposed to moan about how hard being an adult is and tell kids how easy they have it and “wait until you become an adult”.

Screw that. First off, I think the suicide rate would be sky-high if that were reality. If it’s not “adults should never have fun”, it’s “adults should only enjoy adult things”. Porn, alcohol, sex, bars, strip clubs, etc. Instead of a sugar rush, you get intoxicated. Instead of Tom and Jerry, you watch Law and Order. While I have nothing against those things, why should they be the only ways for adults to have some fun? I’ll be more content sitting in the park under a shady tree with a juice pouch, thank you.

Adults do have responsibilities and taking care of them is what I feel should be associated with being “grown-up” and mature, not that someone’s childhood interests have carried over into their adulthood. Some may eventually fade or change while others may last a lifetime. Nothing is wrong with that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to reorganize my Disney Princess DVDs.

Wishful Wednesday: My Climbing Days Are Gone

When I was a kid, I loved to climb! I climbed on everything – fences, trees, walls, poles. I once climb to the very top of a street sign. I wish my mom had taken a picture. That’s my favorite childhood memory.

Since I’m not little anymore, I can’t climb. I’m too heavy and it would look awkward anyway. Yet, I still wish I could climb now as I did back then, or that I had the ability to. The only thing I can climb now is a staircase.

But I guess all good things must come to an end. *sigh*

Sitting in a tree

Although, I still may aspire to do this someday.