Definition of NOSTALGIA
: the state of being homesick
: a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
Merriam Webster Dictionary
I think I was born nostalgic. I am convinced I popped out of the womb, looked around, gummed my bottom lip and thought, well, this is nice, lights, people, action, but the big swish, now those were the days.
When I was seven my family moved from Melbourne, Australia to Aberdeen, Scotland. I carefully placed blue plastic beads from my favorite necklace in random corners of the house we were leaving for future generations to marvel over, flew to Scotland, and spent the 9 months sniffling over how much I missed Australia.
Aberdeen was just too grey, too cold and had too many daffodils! We returned to Australia at the end of the year and obviously I spend the rest of my childhood mourning the golden age in Scotland… the castles we visited, the seals in the river Don, doting grandparents with endless supplies of sweets, the hedgehog in the garden that I used to carry around in my skirt, the oh-so-yummy-trifle that came with school dinner, sitting in bed with granny, all cosy under the quilts, and reading the Narnia books and Snow White, the snow and of course… all those beautiful daffodils!
Even I can’t manage much nostalgia for my teen years, although I do miss the passion that misery engenders, I just don’t want the misery back to engender it. And my last year of school when I used to train and bus it down to the most beautiful beach in the world every second weekend and… well, okay, those were the days….
Or some of them.
Now with my own kids, I wonder what they will be nostalgic about (if they are the kind of people who suffer from nostalgia, some people, I hear, do not).
The world of their childhood is so very different from my own. My little boy pretends everything is a mobile phone and will walk around with a book, or a saucepan, or a plastic plate to his ear busily talking into it. In the morning he will carry my laptop over to me in bed so that I will show him youtubes. His favorites are the John Butler Trio’s ‘Revolution’, a 9 year old girl playing Fur Elise, and a rather unsettling song about excavators.
I suspect he has already been in the car more often than I had before I was 20. My family didn’t get a car until I was 9 and even then if something was within an hours walk, we walked it, and if there was a tram or train in the remote vicinity we trammed or trained it. I was 20 and having my third driving lesson before I noticed the existence of break lights. (Yes, it amazes me I’m allowed on the roads as well…) I wouldn’t be surprised if at 20 odd months he’s worked them out.
But… but… I want my kids to share the things I loved. I want them to touch stone and know that it’s stood witness to 900 years of turmoil. I want them to know lazy summer days lying outside and studying ants, climbing trees and getting stuck, rubbing rose petals to their cheeks and pretending to be fairy-tale characters. Mostly, I want them to love the books I love…
I want to share with them MiddleEarth and Avonlea, Narnia and the jungle of the Mowgli Books, Tortall and Toadhall, Hogwarts and Howl's Moving Castle. And not the movie versions.
And some of these books my mum read as a child as well. And some of these books my granny read as a child as well, and some of these books I’m betting my great granny read as a child.
And sometimes it just scares me that the age of computers is going to cram them out. I have noticed that my own attention span has decreased – how could it fail to affect this new generation who grow up with the constant barrage of film clips and sound bites and cleverly concealed ads.
But surely, surely not. Um. Surely?