I love reminiscing about the past. I think my mum bred it into me as a child when she would describe for us the tales of her adventurous youth; holiday’s spent on remote farms, island hideaways and neighbourhood shenanigans with Mr Pussam Pisser (that was her cat!)
In time, as my brothers and I grew up, we delighted in hearing the stories of our own childhood from her eyes and we’d spend evenings crying with laughter as we’d recall episodes from the seasons of our youth.
Seems harmless enough, but as I’ve gotten older it’s forced me to wonder, is there a danger in reminiscing? Is nostalgia a bad thing?
There once was a time when London was home for me. When the lure of a good book shop or coffee house saw me easily filling up a grey drab Saturday. When summers could simply be spent savouring the delights in more than one European country and the prospect of a warm run in weather was a treat worth celebrating with Pimms on the local Green.
There once was a time when all things that should have been foreign, did not seem so to me. The little corner shop run by Mr Abdallah sold products from every continent, men in their khamis chatted with a cigarette and coffee in hand while waiting outside the Halal butcher, the Polish bakery with its rainbow array of bakery treats behind class cabinets always drawing my eye and the Jamaican Jerk Chicken shop with its spicy smells and colourful characters, all made me feel at home.
Sometimes I feel like it was all a lifetime ago and someone else’s life at that (which is a worry in itself). When I’m drawn back to these memories, I’m swept up in a wave of nostalgia, yearning for those sensory experiences again, the way a child might pine for their snuggie.
There is no denying, life is drastically different now; smelly poos requiring removal (from all parts of the house!), splattered food scraps to pick off floors and walls, patience building toddler tantrums and playdates to be contained, work deadlines that seem to constantly reappear and weekends spent tag-teaming domestic and childcare duties. Did I mention poo! Yep, sensory experiences of another kind you could say.
I don’t mean to sound disenchanted with my life now, having a family brings with it the opportunity to make even more meaningful memories one could say. It is wonderful….. but in a very different way.
I find myself drifting off at times and remembering my previous ‘life’ and if I’m honest, I reeeeally want to go back. Back to the extra-ordinary, the cosmopolitan, the vibrant, the freedom. It is that availability of sensory experiences that only a certain place, at only a certain time can offer, which makes you feel alive.
My husband and I met in London, he was an illegal immigrant and I was a naive Aussie. Both of us were existing in a bubble of spontaneity, nervous excitement, wonder (and each of us share housing in pokey flats with more people than is acceptable by human rights standards). But what happened to us? To the people we were then?
We’ll often reminisce about these times ‘when we were young and beautiful’ he jokes, but it always leaves us feeling a little glum afterwards. Almost like (dare I say it out loud), life will never be that ‘good’ again.
But, then I’m pulled back into the now on a warm summers day, living by the beach, in sunny Queensland, in a house (not shared with others!) with three cheeky monkeys, always up for a cuddle….and life’s pretty darn sweet really.
It is all a matter of perspective and I’m slowly figuring out that while there is no harm in letting nostalgia drop by occasionally, it can be a bit like a good glass of wine; tempting and comforting, but overindulge and it’s sure to end with a hangover that just won’t budge.
My Mum taught me the value in sharing and reliving memories, but she never forgot to appreciate and enjoy the present. She’s a smart woman, happy to indulge in just the one glass. Me, I love wine too much to just stop at one, but then maybe herein lies my dilemma….. I’ll work on it.