November 6th, 2020
Nostalgia is a powerful thing.
It can transport you through time and space. It can trap you in pocket dimensions made of moments. It builds worlds from smells and sounds and feelings you had never felt before or since.
I’m the kind of person who can feel nostalgia before it happens, while I’m still living in the memory that I’ll be looking back on. It’s a strange kind of wanting, being able to imagine yourself in the future imagining this moment.
When my mom passed, I almost immediately found myself on eBay. I know that a lot of people use shopping as a form of distraction or relief, but this was different. I had a mission, a purpose. I wanted artifacts from my childhood that reminded me of the person I love.
We had a shared obsession of Disney. 101 Dalmatians was one of her favorites. When I was six years old, they re-released it in theaters. I remember her taking me out of school, picking up McDonald’s (I ate so much McDonald’s as a child of the 90’s) and watching the movie together. Theaters (and a lot of TV sets) didn’t have closed-captioning at the time, so Disney films were perfect because you didn’t really need to know exactly what anyone was saying; the characters were so beautifully expressive, emotions expertly expressed, and the stories so easily followed. We just got to take the ride together.
Bambi was another one we loved, and is probably my absolute favorite Disney film. Rewatch it if you haven’t in a while; it is a perfect movie. (That Bambi lost his mom too soon only makes it resonate more.) The collecting of McDonald’s toys was another passion we shared, and that comes with its own strife; because my mom didn’t speak, she would have me check the Happy Meal, make sure we didn’t already have the toy they gave us, and if we did, I was responsible to ask the kid behind the counter to get us a new one. At the time, it was mortifying. But guess who had full sets of every line of fast food toy? My mom taught me not to settle, and to go for what I want. I’m just now realizing that she’s a reason I’m such a collector of things myself.
If my dad was going to the store, we were maybe lucky to convince him of a candy bar. If my mom was going, you better believe I was coming home with an action figure. I had all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, their sensei, their enemies, and their van. I adore the Turtles. I couldn’t wait until I had three brothers of my own. (Spoiler alert: I got three lovely sisters instead.) I actually got my first punch to the face because I quoted a Raphael line at a rougher kid from the block (bloody nose and everything!).
So many people will look at things and see junk. I can’t help but see my entire existence through the constants of my pop culture existence.
I used to think that somehow made me less than. That it was strange I held things in such reverence. But now I realize that it just makes me human, simple when heartbroken.
There’s a difference between being stuck in the past and being wonderfully tied to it. What I’m working so hard on is eliminating the former, and embracing the latter.