It happened again last night. It was something as small as a soft-drink can ring-pull, but seeing it reminded me of something funny my ex used to do*. The memory made me laugh and then it made me a little sad. It was only a momentary sadness, then it was gone – but it stabbed me in my heart a little.
I get it all the time. For people I’ve loved and friends and for eras in my life. It’s not because I want to go back to that time – I like moving forward, and even if I could go back it wouldn’t feel or be the same as the memory, because I am not the same. I’m happy where I’m at now. It’s just this little pang of grief for times past and people lost to me or situations changed. A little attack of nostalgia.
My friend Cloud, we’ve known each other since childhood and had a very intense, really amazing close kinship in our late teens. We are still friends, but a closeness that intense is bound to burn out. It doesn’t take much to arouse my memory of that time. A specific song, a cool breeze brushing bare arms on a hot day. The sight of a Datsun 120 with P-plates on, the smell of hand-rolled cigarettes wafts past my nose and my heart squeezes, my tummy pangs with a tiny little sorrow.
When I was 24 or so, I lived in a little apartment in a converted town house in the inner-city. Two of my friends lived there too, and there was this summer that we spent that was just a little bit idyllic. A picture taken at that time, eating something that one of those girls introduced me to, listening to the kind of music that they played… I get a hit of sorrow that those times are past. We are all still friends, but older now and dispersed geographically. Different. Of course, things aren’t ever going to stay static, which is wonderful in and of itself. But it doesn’t mean I don’t miss that time. I do, I miss the closeness, the camaraderie, the specific kind of happiness that I felt then that won’t ever be repeated.
They hurt, these little stabs of memory. But I wouldn’t give them up. It wouldn’t hurt if it wasn’t important. I wouldn’t feel it if the thoughts and people and memories didn’t mean something to me. It hurts, but it’s a good hurt. It jabs me in my heart because these memories are stuck inside there and they’ve shaped me.
In a particularly good moments now I often think about how it will feel to remember it, in the future. How all presents turn into pasts and into memories, how my today will be my nostalgia in years to come.
(*In case your wondering, my ex would only open his soft-drink cans enough to let a little trickle of liquid flow out. I’d ask him for a sip and go to open it all the way and he’d snatch it back. “No, don’t open it too far! A bee might fly in there!” Because one time, a bee did fly into his soft drink can. It always made me laugh because he’d always say it, even when we were inside and far from the threat of bees.)