Monday, December 17, 2007
Remembrance of Things Past
Nostalgia is so strange. What purpose does it serve? Why would we be inclined to see the past through a rose-colored lens, rather than the way it really was? Would the cumulative weight of years of reality be too stressful for our minds?
I got to thinking about this after reading one of my old journals yesterday. While cleaning a closet I took them down and I read through one of them, from 1995. At that point I was living in Venice, Fla., and reporting for a newspaper there.
When I look back on Venice, I think of a quiet town by the Gulf of Mexico, with blooming yellow tabebuia trees and red kapoks. I could ride my bicycle to the beach, or sit on my balcony at night and hear killdeer in the field across the street. I remember hanging out with coworkers and going to parties and rollerblading in the early morning on the smooth streets, past quaint ‘50s ranch houses. I enjoyed living in Venice, or so I thought.
But my journal revealed that actually, I resisted Venice much of the time. I yearned to be in a bigger city with more culture and activity, with more young people and certainly more gay people. I was constantly lamenting my job and plotting my escape. And although I had good times too, I was enmeshed in all sorts of friendship and relationship drama.
Now, it's the nature of a journal to be the recipient of complaints we can't vent in our daily lives. So while I think my memories of Venice ARE nostalgic, it's also true that my journal probably doesn't represent an accurate reality, either. It's probably skewed a bit to the negative.
Still, it's funny how the years have turned Venice into a happy Florida paradise in my mind. Where does this come from? Why do we think things used to be better than they were?
(Photo: Maple shadows on the Upper East Side, October 2007)