I need to take a break from this intense book I’ve been reading. It’s an autobiographical piece about a woman from Minneapolis named Alexa who had to work really hard to get pregnant, and when she did (with twins), one of them died in the womb and the other was born four months early. If that’s not enough, the woman suffered from panic disorder and had miscarried twice before using IVF. And the pregnancy itself was no bed of roses.
The book is hitting me hard. I don’t have the life experiences that this author does, but I feel familiar emotions with the way she writes. I’ve talked before about struggling with anxiety (undiagnosed, I should add), and reading it in her words seems to magnify it in myself, bringing up insecurities to light in me that I like to forget about. Alexa describes herself as dealing in absolutes. When her daughter is born at 1 lb 11 oz, she visits her daily in the neonatal intensive care unit and feels horrible for not being there, placing guilt in things she has no control over. We probably all know that feeling in some way. So this book is making me raw.
Also I haven’t blogged in over a month now. No time like the present. I’ve been stewing around with a topic over the last few days. Here it is.
I’m a nostalgic person. I place great importance in memories with the people I’m close to. This is not to say that I’m afraid of change; I embrace change and let go, but hold on to the joy of the old. If anything, moving forward in life makes the memories and traditions more meaningful.
I express this quality through inside jokes, in large part. When I come up with an inside joke with someone, I’m comfortable with them. I think of it and smile whenever I see that person, although it’s not always the best idea to bring it up with them. The first inside jokes I remember having with anyone were with my cousin Laurel when I was probably 11 or 12, when we played in the pool at Plantation Country Club in Boise. I’m sure we had them before then, because we’ve spent countless hours laughing together, and still do. Humor is an important part of nostalgia – it makes you feel good, and you need to be able to look back on that.
I also think of a new-ish tradition, within the last few years since the patio at my parents’ house was finished. In Seattle’s beautiful summers, we like to grill salmon and vegetables, pour ourselves some red wine, and sit around the table on the patio. I remember doing this several times a week when I was back living there in 2014. I came to associate this with my dad talking about fun times he had at Bethany Lutheran Church in the 1980s, the church where my parents met, my grandparents were memorialized, and my aunt plays organ. Particularly involving joking around in the choir loft. These conversations were, of course, humorous, and now whenever I go home (which I will be May 26-31), we repeat this custom. Who knows what stories I’ll learn next time?
The recent occurrence that’s got me riffing on nostalgia, though, was just this past Monday. I’ll preface with a story. My senior year of college, I became close with a boy 2 years younger than me, named Wes. We made a habit of going to T-Bock’s together, particularly on the night before school breaks started, and just hanging out and talking about life. He was (is) in Nordic Choir, and we share the talent of perfect pitch. This was one of the bright spots of my senior year, and I hoped we’d be able to do it again especially after I moved back here. Well, this past Monday (4/11), we finally did. Wes had his dress rehearsal for his senior vocal recital, so I decided to go listen since I can’t go to the event. That was all lovely, and then we went to T-Bock’s again. We sat in the same spot we used to, but unfortunately the shrimp basket that we liked is no longer on the menu. But the nostalgia was very much alive. Oddly enough, we flipped the script in a way. It used to be that I would order a beer or cider, while he had to drink soda because he wasn’t 21. This time, he had the beer and I had soda, since I had an hour and a half drive home.
It was so interesting, too, to hear him in the same perspective I was 2 years ago, excited and anxious about real life. He’s still the boy I got to know then, but a little more mature and ready to find his niche in the musical world. We used to talk about sports quite a bit too, so we did that too. Leaving that night, I felt nothing short of content.
What this taught me about my nostalgic self was that returning to something you once loved to do a lot after a break in it shows you how much you’ve changed. Sitting across from Wes in that same spot at T-Bock’s, I was struck that I am not the same girl who sat there in May 2014. I mean, that’s obvious. But, like I said, I don’t like to think back to the insecurities I was suffering from long ago. I had a lot of those my senior year – while I was on the upswing after a rough patch, I wasn’t all the way better. Wes helped me with that quite a bit, to his credit. Now I don’t have them so badly (as long as I don’t read too many books about it).
The nostalgia of reliving this experience was happy both because it was a positive memory, and because it boosted me up, a reassurance to my 22-year-old self that I was going to be successful, that I do have the drive in me that I prayed for. I’ve discovered my core values that I searched for for 20-plus years – heck, I’m still finding them. I’m making new relationships and memories that give me joy just like the old ones. I do hope to keep returning to the old – living near my alma mater helps with that – but I won’t let that hold me back from life’s twists and turns.
In other aspects of my life, I’m pretty much continuing with what I was doing, although I’ve added more freelance work with the Med City Beat website. That’s quite a new thing – I’m only on my second story for it. And I’ve taken on new duties at Ashdown writing for Catworld magazine. I’m still doing Bead & Jewellery, don’t worry. I’m busy, but I enjoy what I’m doing, so I can’t complain. Doesn’t make me any less tired, though, so I think I will call it a night.