Nostalgia. That word takes you back, months, years to a different century. Sepia toned and fuzzy at the edges. A wonderland filled with memories and the joys associated with those memories.The sounds of childhood summers and rain drenched afternoons. Road Trips with friends and school trips to the zoo. The smell of your mom as she snuggles you to sleep. Lazy Sunday mornings and the scent of cotton candy. Your favorite singer crooning his easy song. Summer romances and matinee shows. You close your eyes and wish hard, so hard to be back there in that magical place where you’re still young and carefree.

Nostalgia is very forgiving. The pain, the heartbreaks, and the tears are masked by fluffy, shiny reminiscences of an uncomplicated time.  And that’s pretty understandable. Your brain wants you to remember only the good parts. Why be a downer and make you relive the gloomy stuff. 

I take it one step further. I get nostalgic for times I don’t even have a clear memory of. I was listening to a snatchy song in the car the other day. The familiar melody hit my ear, the eighth cranial nerve passed that information to my brain and whoosh! I was off! Hardcore reliving the romance and abandon of “that era”. After a dreamy few minutes, the song trailed off, and I floated down home, the chorus still ringing in my head, like a gusty breeze. Then, as my feet touched the ground, I realized.  I was likely 1 or 2 when that song came out. Still in diapers and eating dirt off my grandma’s backyard. What was I nostalgic about? In fact, all these memories and associations were nothing but my gullible emotions projected on to someone else’s idea of what constituted as romance. Yes, music transcends time and all that, but it’s sort of ridiculous to get misty-eyed for a time when you didn’t exist as a self-aware human being. 

Back when I was a relatively new mother, struggling with depression and unable to go back to work, nostalgia was like crack cocaine to me. I snuggled with my infant/toddler and drifted off to mental images of what I thought was a better time. I would willfully believe that life was easier when I was younger. And yes, to an extent it was. No worries about cooking/cleaning/child rearing/financial responsibilities. But I also overlooked the (all too real at the time) angst and worries that being a young adolescent brings about. All the heartbreaks and the hormone led poor decisions.The general suckitude of being a moody teenager. 

And ladies, that’s why nostalgia is very seductive and dangerous. It shows you improbable possibilities and nudges you ever so slightly, and there you go again. Wasting precious time in the past while your right-now is put on pause. It’s intoxicating with its promise to make you feel like life was so much better back then.Also known as the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Whatever you have going on, you want to believe that someone else’s life or some other timeline is always better. And isn’t that a dangerous rabbit hole to fall into?

Now that I’m a grown ass mother of 2 and those crazy years of having an infant constantly attached to the boob are behind me, I’m wiser. Nostalgia is mostly pointless. And tiring. But something you still reach for when you need some comfort. Like a smooth wine. Just a few minutes. Just a couple more glasses. Everybody needs that sometimes. But if you overindulge and refuse to stop, it’s going to pull you in with carefully constructed illusions of (elusive) happiness. And then a headache. 

So yes, you may have been a free-spirited girl, or the ambitious professional or even both. You may have rocked a mini dress and danced till the crack of dawn. By your side, a Smokin’ hot boyfriend or an entire year of lazy weekends. Euphoric flashbacks, songs, smells. And these are important. 
Your past is a big part of who you are now. But don’t spend too much time there. Instead focus on your now. Your breathtaking children, made with love and wonder. Your maturity, where you pause before deciding to take offense. Your perfect job and that project only you can manage.Your hard-won successes both at work and at home. Your friends who still value what you have to say.Your child’s heady scent as they bury themselves into your warm grasp. Your husband’s smile and the first gray hair on his head, a testament to the wonderful years he’s been with you. Your womanness, your stretch marks, your inner strength, your flaws. All woven into the essence of you.The value of your mere presence, your position at the head of the table and at the center of your young family.

This! This is your present. This is your prize. You’ve earned this! So cherish it. Don’t reach for something unattainable in your past. Instead, stop and look around at your today, at your now. Hold this moment in your hands and marvel at how sublime it is. And then make that moment the best damn memory you can.

Disclaimer: Some of you are wondering if I am high (I’m not) or if I just rambled on for so long without a real point?? You’re some of the more level-headed of my species, not susceptible to nostalgia or fantasy. I am jealous of you because you effortlessly live in the present. I work hard to do the same, so writing this down helps me as much as it hopefully helps my like-minded sisters.

Photo by Dana Cristea on Unsplash

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