On Nostalgia

I cracked my phone last week. Not to weird flex, but it was my second time cracking a phone. My first one was this old pink ‘LG touch screen something’ ten years ago. Again, not to weird flex, but I was shook when I found my phone cracked. It happened on my bed, of all places, and I suspect it was my laptop’s doing. I still don’t understand how I cracked my phone. And actually, I’m still waiting for the moment I will wake up and see my phone isn’t cracked.

So I won’t really be writing about crack, even though I have now mentioned the word six times. Instead, cracking my phone’s screen sent me right back ten years ago, which then set off a long string of memories of my eleven-year-old self. It was around the summer break between middle school and high school (Dutch system), and I remember spending this summer being a total child, not worrying about high school and all the drama and awkward puberty moments that were about to hit me like a brick. I distinctly remember this magical impromptu water balloon fight with all the neighboring kids and ever since that day I have been wishing to have one again.

But I’m not a child anymore. It’s not easy to start a water balloon fight out of nowhere. Everyone is busy, lives somewhere else, has other friends. I think back to this balloon fight a lot, because I think it was one of the few moments I was genuinely happy. Thinking back to this day always makes me want to dive back to a past in which I had barely any worries: a past in which building houses in the Sims 3 was all I did all day, or when I would be playing chess at school and at tournaments. I wish to go back to the times when I wouldn’t know what I was getting for Christmas, or even to my days playing games on Neopets. Those were the days, man.

That should be nostalgia, right? A wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or for some past period or irrecoverable condition, as described in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The weirdest things make me feel nostalgic. I recently found out my mother used to listen to Tchaikovsky when she was pregnant with me and ever since listening to Tchaikovsky makes me feel nostalgic. It’s not even possible for me to remember that period, and yet thinking back to being a fetus makes me feel sentimental. The same goes for every wedding ceremony I attend: I am instantly thrown back to that one time I was the flower girl at my cousin’s wedding in Los Angeles while the only thing I remember is accidentally drinking vodka.

Seeing a campaign to raise money for research on Alzheimer makes me nostalgic, too. It reminds me of my grandmother, who is slowly deteriorating because of Alzheimer. And so this seemingly innocent short video sends me straight back to six-year-old me sitting next to my grandmother and having her teach me how to knit. It reminds me of the time when she was able to knit over fourteen years ago. I am reminded of baking cookies and going on walks with my grandfather. I am reminded of eating fish during Armenian Christmas and Easter with newspapers lining the table for us to put fish bones on. Ironic, isn’t it, that this campaign, of all things, reminds me of so many happy moments?

Not too long ago, I was walking home with my mother and brother. This reminded me of what our daily lives used to look like when we were children. We used to walk back home after school together, play some games together, wait for my father return from work and have dinner together, sometimes go to the library together if I had finished reading all my books. And then I’m reminded of when my brother and I used to go to sleep at the same time together, only for me to sneak back downstairs once he was asleep to watch TV with my parents.

I know that all I am doing right now is reminiscing a past I won’t be able to return to. However, nostalgia doesn’t mean that the future won’t be as good as the past was. Every day is a new opportunity to make new memories that will be worth remembering in a couple years, memories to be nostalgic about.

Let’s return to where we started this article. By the time you’re reading this, I have already replaced my phone, which means that yet another item has become part of my past. However, replacing my phone also means that I will have a new phone to capture new moments with. Everyone grows up and grows away from who they were as kids, but everyone also experiences new and bigger things once they have grown away from their childhood. Memories are not a reason to linger in the past, but a jumping board for the future, and I think that’s beautiful.

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