Nauseous Nostalgia

The fear of loss is a bond that all humans feel. From the loner to the most social, losing whatever it is that gives you breath every day is detrimental. It is one thing to constantly remind yourself to be thankful for what you have, but it is another to actually put breath back into what is providing you with an IV with your daily medicine, the CPR that you have come to depend on. You can love your garden as much as you want, but if you do not water it, the plants you love so much will die. Give and take, take and give, it is so often that our relationships weigh heavier on one of the two.

My grandfather has always lived strongly by one mantra: Listen to what I say, not how I say it. This has run through his blood for as long as I have known him, and probably in him from the first position of power and influence he took on. But things are changing; his wife, my grandmother is suffering from what we will all come to know, the hands of old age. The hands that creep ever so slowly over us, until they decide to do what they want. We fight them off, and sometimes hold hands with them, understanding each other for the moment, getting along for a common good, but eventually we grow tired and they win. This is life, as it always has been, and even the most cocky of us most eventually succomb to our own ego’s and stop the battle. But while we still have fight in us, how do we deal?

For her it is her mind. It is her hands. An artist who is losing control of both. How do we cope? A lesson to be learned. Hear what I say not how I say it. But now these moments, they are so tender. She may not remember the words, but the tone it matters now. Days are not careless anymore. Each one counts, and each one is for her new memories. Forgotten or not, make them count. Imagine that it took decades to realize how important our delivery is. Words are just the forefront of conversation. If you come with a bite, you may receive a bark back. How have we come this far to only learn this now? And if we had known it yesterday, what would it have changed? Would we know more about each other?

When Monet went blind, he let the colors he had spent a lifetime falling in love with guide him through. Just because you have stopped seeing it does not mean the colors don’t exist. Just because you have stopped breathing, it doesn’t mean what you have left behind can’t still exist. As she holds her paintbrush now, she may not have the concentrated, calculated control that she has become accustomed to, but does that mean she has to stop? I think it means she can’t stop.

The way you thought you would always be, the parts of you that you thought you would never change; all it takes is the dependency of love and in an instant you are the person you thought you could never be. The thought of someone you love immensely going through a pain that you can not take on yourself is itself the greatest pain in the universe.

Moving across the country, away from my family and my friends has given me the space to crash into so many feelings. Not things that were necessarily buried deep, but things that I could not face or deal with while in such close proximity to those who were part of the memory. I look in the mirror and say hey are you ok? It’s become a daily ritual. I don’t think we talk to ourselves enough. We demand things of ourselves yes, we put pressure on ourselves, we judge and feel sorry for ourselves, but how often do we say: whats up? How often do we check in and get real with ourselves? How often do we attempt to talk ourselves down? Living in New York I learned how to amp myself up. How to look in the mirror and demand myself to look sharp, to smile, and charm the shit out of whoever it was I was about to come in contact with. But never did I say, how the fuck are you and what is it exactly that you want and need out of today. I think it was because I was scared to slow down, being alone with your thoughts is horrifying. But once you take the initial jump, it’s refreshing as hell.

Today is a day that I usually dread. This month actually always proves to be the hardest of the year for me. I have for the past decade hated November. It marks to me the day that I woke up and no longer had my mom. Crazy isn’t it, how twenty four hours is all it takes. One day you’re planning for one thing, and the next…We as humans are in a constant state of change. Even if we fail to recognize it, or try and delay it, change is always happening. Time no matter how much you choose to ignore it will at some point demand your attention. I have tried to avoid the books that talk about grief, how to grief, what year one, two, three, mean. The thing is, the way you remember someone you love will change every time you think about them. Sometimes you will be brought to tears, sometimes you’ll find yourself laughing, and sometimes you will just feel empty. Empty in the way that only death can make you feel. Death and nostalgia. Those two things make me feel so eerily the same. It’s this feeling that sits in your stomach and clenches your throat. I suppose being nostalgic can often feel like dying or at least like you’re letting go of something that you will never get back again. No matter how hard you try what is dead is gone, and what has past is now nostalgia. How mind numbing. How frustrating. How have we not created a time machine yet? That’s all you can think in those moments. We as humans are really so helpless. Just like the planet we live on we are crashing through time and space, hoping not to hit anything that will end us before we are ready. But because we will never know when that might happen, we have to live.

It is such a strange concept to think back on this year and say: I learned to live. I have always been terrified of dying. I have carefully avoided getting too close to those I could fall madly in love with as friends and as lovers, because you see time and nature could take them away from me. But I think that’s selfish. I think it’s stupidity. It is definitely destructive. So though it isn’t yet time for resolutions there’s mine. To love without question, and look inside myself. To fall to nostalgia’s spell when it takes over my thoughts, but not allow it to blanket me and push me away from the present. You are always told not to forget your past, but I think what we should be told, is to respect our past and let it live inside us, but to always keep an extinguisher at a hand when it’s flames tickle us too harshly. Calling us back. You can’t go back, and I think that’s a good thing.

Youth Comes Back Home

One of the first things that you realize is that it smells exactly the same. Smells can bring you right back to any moment, any point in time. They are memories, capsules of people and places. The buildings have the same smell. It’s surreal that after years, for me a decade that everything hits me as if I were twelve again.

Days seemed absolutely endless when you were young. A week spent with friends much like camp, but instead of counselors there were trees. There were endless paths to walk down, endless amounts of water to swim or boat across, and if you wanted you never has to interact with your parents for longer than a kiss in the morning, a wave at dinner, and a mumbled goodnight before bed. You were already a second away from being asleep, and by the time your head did reach the pillow – it was morning.

That’s how days went. They rolled into each other but without a solid end. And then suddenly it was over. A week of memories that would last all year. Friendships that would, have, lasted a lifetime. And scents that even as an adult bring you right back to your first kiss on the dock. Right under the boat slip, before you knew that the lips you were kissing belonged to the opposite gender of who you would ever love later on. That a few years later not more than 100 feet away you would come out to someone for the first time.

Everything can change all around you, and yet you can return to certain places and realize that for them all the change that could possibly happen has already. The mountains, the lake, they were shaped before you were even a beam on a star sending it’s light down to the Earth that would raise something we call humanity. Here you question if you even need anyone. You’d be just as peaceful alone with a boat and a book and maybe a home to love. Love, you found that here. This is where you learned what it felt like to see the person you had dreamed would be forever go off with someone else. You learned what it was to have friends that you could talk to forever, and promised would stay forever, and surprisingly some of them did. Attachment was formed here. The feeling of not exactly knowing why, but wanting to spend a suffocating amount of time with someone else. Because you could be your true self. And summer after summer you found yourself becoming that self. You allowed yourself to be more vulnerable here than you ever would have back home, because you knew here it wouldn’t matter, that people would treat you as if they had always known the person you would end up being.

Think back and realize how awkward it all was. How awkward we all were. But no one cared. How amazing to be embraced for the gangly kid you were. Realizing that New York is such a big state, and someone calling themselves a New Yorker did not automatically mean they rode the subway, or in so many cases ever seen a subway. Concrete kids and farm kids, suburb kids and somewhere in between kids. Every day you would meet at group and you were just – kids.

A week without any form of plugged in visual entertainment. The week before you questioned whether you would be able to make it. A week without your favorite shows, without internet, and gossip from friends. You were being disconnected, a terrifying concept for your adolescent mind to comprehend. You would get back home, and your friends surely wouldn’t be able to connect with you. As soon as you woke up from the drive and saw that sign, that sign that said Silver Bay – none of it mattered.

And yet you have stayed away. It has been a bit more than a decade – every summer you tell yourself that you will make it. But somehow the opportunity passes you by. The last time was a different time, it was a hard time, it was goodbyes and tears in everyone’s eyes. It was apologies from family friends, long hugs and forced smiles. Every other week that you spent here is highlighted in your mind, but that one has been lost by the protective mind. Pushed away and deep, almost like a secret you had even forgotten you had made. A promise that you made by mistake, that you would forget this place and that day. But your heart it seems is shifts you easier than you dreamed. As time goes on, those memories come back at random, they catch you when a scent floats by on a breeze. And there you are, 12 again jumping off cliffs your parents would kill you for going near. Learning that stepping off of rocks is the hardest part, that second before the jump, and then suddenly it all makes sense. Suddenly you find yourself seeing that sign for the first time in years. The smells are back and so is that feeling of absolute content. Your youth has come back home.