Blog Post No. 466
For some reason, the nostalgia that overwhelms me in Autumn seemed to hit later this year. Sure, the post about Saturday Mornings was nothing but a huge nostalgia trip (just like what this post is going to be). Usually I get the wistful feeling at the end of August or early September. It could be the changing of the leaves, or the chill in the air (or more likely the anime about arcades in the 90s that I’ve been watching) but today, I was completely swept away in the past. (By the way, when did reminiscing become nostalgia?).
I think that going back to the day job, and all the new stress that’s come along with it, pushed back my yearly musings on my past. Since I’ve always kind of lived in my own head (and the stories that I make up there) I think I’m prone to reminiscence and even more, I tend to remember the imagined realities that I wish had happened. I took a class in university called Reasoning About Weird Things. I had no idea what I was getting into, but the title of the class was too good for me to pass up. The whole idea of the class was to study how our perception and memories are almost totally inaccurate and should not be trusted. It was really interesting (if a little disheartening).
With that in mind, our memories are not what they seem. They are actually the memory of the last time we remembered something. They change over time and each time we access them. That’s usually why the past is seen as so much better than the present. It’s idyllic. That, and our youth was formative. Everything was new and exciting. The music we listened to was the best, times we spent doing whatever we did were unrivaled.
When I chat with my friends about the 90s (whether we experienced them together or not) we always talk about how wild they were. It was a the start of the internet and the decline of the untethered child. We would leave the house in the morning and play street hockey until it was dark. We walked to school alone. We got email addresses for the first time (even if our computers at home weren’t connected to the internet).
I was never allowed to go to an arcade. There was a big one down town called Fast Eddy’s. It was off limits (as was all of downtown). There were cabinets at the mall (a place I could go on my bike to meet up with friends) and usually one or two at the corner convince store (though I wasn’t allowed to go there alone until I was older anyway). My friends and I would take the few bucks we were able to scrounge and bike to the store. Most of the time, the money was spent on candy and pop. Jolt was new and tantalizing, but there were big glass bottles of pop that you could return for a nickel that were hard to pass up, too. If we had any money left over, and the arcade machine was interesting, we would pop in a quarter and see how far we could go.
I was terrible. I’m still not amazing at older games. I spent more time renting movies than playing eight or sixteen bit consoles. (We had an Atari 7800 at home but didn’t get anything else until our cousin got a Genesis and handed down his Master System to us). So an arcade machine was more of a novelty than anything else. I would have liked to get a chance to play more, but really, I was having enough fun without them. I do remember when the closest Mac’s Milk had Golden Axe. The store was close to my grandparent’s house and a couple of times when my brother and I were staying there, we walked down to the store and played the game until we ran out of quarters. I couldn’t tell you if we ran back to get more from Granma and Grandpa, but it’s something we would likely have done.
All in all, I like to look back on my youth because, even though I had some not so great times, I mostly had a really good time. I’m not going to say that my childhood was somehow inherently better than kids today. It’s just different. My parents could say the same thing about their childhood. Some things are way better now, but other things are lost along the way. It’s always changing and no one has the perfect answer. I just like to look back every now and then and relive a little piece of that time, even if it’s through a foggy lens that makes the darkness a little deeper and the light shine a little brighter.