Issue #4/2016 of the UOW’s ‘Tertangala’ came out today, and again, I was lucky enough to have something published in there. For those who don’t have access to the beautiful copy, here it is for ya:
NOSTALGIA: OUR FAVOURITE FRENEMY.
Nostalgia is a terrifying emotion for a lot of people. We either clutch onto it with all our might, or we have it tightly gift wrapped in a brown paper box, tied up with blue ribbon and sent off to Timbuktu. It’s hidden everywhere. It’s laced in the trees of your backyard. It’s sprinkled on your mother’s apple pie. Your bedroom, no matter how young or old, is completely exploding with nostalgia.
I crave it. Nostalgia is something that grounds me; that makes us human. Experiencing it places us somewhere on the emotional scale and perhaps for some people that can be a bit too much. Once, while having a conversation with my friend’s host-brother from France, he told me “Australians are fixated with the past”. All of our stories, a large source of our humour, are based on things that have already happened. We can’t seem to move out of it, we love to talk about the no longer. For him, it was nice to watch us relish in the days of our youth, but it didn’t seem very constructive.
I suppose he was right. What good is going through your wardrobe and finding a stuffed toy that you’d thought you lost, but really, she sat there waiting patiently for you to find her? Okay, maybe he was crazy. Finding things that remind you of, not a better time, but a different time is what helps us grow. I look at reminders of my past: stuffed animals, a photograph, an old jumper, the scent of a once-used perfume and I think of who I am today. I compare. What once was, what never became, and now what is.
I hold a navy blue dress before me, remembering my 18th birthday when I first wore it. I was thin, I was tanned, my hair was long and my smile was wide. I looked healthy and happy. I look at myself now. I’m still me. The navy blue dress will still hug me in all the right places, but I would never wear it again. I have let go of the essence it held. I am not the 18-year-old version of myself who would wear this and rock it. I am the 21-year-old who looks at the memories the dress holds, happy they happened, but glad they are over. In a sense, the dress is a small factor, a minor contributor in the shift that makes me an evolving human being. If I wore that dress now, regardless of how it fits me, I would look like an idiot. Maybe not to anyone else, but the mirror tells me it’s not an option. I’m a different version of myself three years later, and it’s time the dress gets posted on UOW Students Buy and Sell. $25. Time to go buy a book.
One would assume that in the modern days of consumerism, when we’re constantly replacing the old with the new, that nostalgia has escaped us. But no, it has found new and innovative ways to creep into our lives. Hugging onto your stuffed walrus Mookie might transport you back to a simpler time, and you thank nostalgia for being a gracious old friend. But you forgot about nostalgia’s backstabbing side. Thankfully, Facebook has reminded us. Each day, nostalgia knocks on your door with a simple notification. “On this day, seven years ago, you wrote a status that could diminish your entire social life. If you decide you want to do this, please click the ‘share’ button, if you’re happy and you like yourself, please keep scrolling as if 2009 never happened.” Thank you Facebook, but most importantly, thank you nostalgia, for reminding me that if I met my 15 year-old self, I’d flick her gently on the nose and tell her to take a hike.