Would 7-year-old me be proud of who I’ve become?

Sometimes it feels like I’m not myself anymore. But I am, I’m just growing. And changing. I’m finding my way in the world as an adult. Not that that’s new, it’s been a good few years now, but when I was first 18, I didn’t feel like an adult. Even when I turned 21 and I went out and bought a six pack even though I don’t drink, I felt like I was faking it.

But now it’s been a few years, I know my favorite brand of beer and I’ve voted five times. I’ve felt what it’s like to fall in love and I know all too well the hopelessness of heartbreak. I still live at home and I’m still trucking along in college, but both of those are nearing the end of their lifespan. I can’t help but wonder where I’ll be in five years. That feels like a more daunting question now than it ever has. Will I still be living five minutes from the beach? Will I still be friends with these people who’ve lived down the street from me our whole lives? Will I have started my career? Will I be happy?

Sometimes I wish I could go back to being 7, laying in the grass in the backyard of my childhood home, listening to the same song on repeat until I learned all the lyrics. Or until it got dark out. That song was eight minutes and four seconds long. It was a song from before I was born and I still remember most of the lyrics. I wanted to learn the words so bad for virtually no reason other than just wanting to. I would write on a piece of paper for weeks, all the lyrics to this song from my parents’ childhood. And eventually, I learned all the words. I never showed it off to anyone, I never sang it for anyone. I did that purely because I wanted to see if I could.

At the time, that was something that brought me the greatest dopamine rush. Nothing made me happier than to be able to swing on the swing-set, listening on my $30 off-brand mp3-player in the crisp spring air, and quietly singing all the words. It was my project and no one else’s. Nothing could’ve made me happier.

Maybe the key to feeling that freeness again is to pick up that habit again. I should do things for me, to make me proud, not anyone else. I’ve always been a firm believer in thinking: if 7-year-old me knew what I was up to, would they be proud of me?

Tea and Nostalgia

Tea in the afternoon,

hard at work on this or that

and the sun shines through the window, cracked.

Tea on the windowsill,

a gentle breeze cools the drink.

It’s not as cold as it’s been lately

and the smell of fresh air

brings a sense of nostalgia

for when I had no troubles,

spending all my time running around outside.

I have this obsession with nostalgia

and I think it’s because I’m so eternally exhausted

and I miss the feeling

of optimism and pure delight

I only truly had as a child.

I’m only 22

but I’ve been through enough

to deserve this cup of tea

and a moment of clarity.

Nostalgia

I haven’t felt a single thing

and I worry I never will again.

What happened?

I used to be so lively,

nowadays I’d rather sit at home

than be with loved ones.

What happened?

It’s like a part of me died when you left.

I knew it would happen;

I knew from the start

and I did nothing to stop it.

What happened?

What happened to the person I once was?

I have a fondness for things from before,

things like games and music and pop culture

because it’s the only thing

that brings me closer

to who I was

before.


Simpler Times

There’s something about nostalgia

I obsess over it.

Most of my tattoos are tied to it,

half of my wardrobe is related to it.

I attach myself to the past,

it’s difficult to let it go,

it’s too easy to reflect on,

to reminisce about the Simpler Times.

I find myself playing old games from my childhood,

going for walks where I spent so much time as a child,

but why?

I’m often let down,

the games aren’t what they used to be,

the walks cluttered with litter and nosy people,

but I find myself drawn to it all.

Maybe it’s something to do with the simplicity of it

and how nothing ever seems as simple as back then.

It’s beautiful in the saddest fashion,

how I will never again relive those memories,

and every day they’ll fade more

until I hardly remember them at all.

Summer Nostalgia

I live by the beach, on the little peninsula of eastern Massachusetts known as Cape Cod. I have mixed feelings about living here; it’s expensive, summers are hectic and infested with tourists, winters are slow and dull. I’m not a huge fan of the beach, either, but the other night I was driving home from work, windows down since it’s finally warm enough for that, and I smelled the salt water marsh. It brought back a flood of memories and an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia.

I’ve been dreaming about moving off cape for years now; it’s not exactly plausible, but it’s a dream of mine. But when I smelled the salt water, a part of me hesitated. I vividly remembered sitting on a towel on the crowded beach as a child. I remembered playing in the hot sand, picking up handfuls of it and letting it soothingly, slowly trickle off my hands and back onto the beach. I remembered the smell of the ocean, the salty air, taking that first step on the beach in my flip flops. The sand tough to walk on, so I quickly slip my shoes off and feel the hot sand on my bare feet, my brother and I running to an open spot, perfect for us to put our blankets down on.

I reminisced on the hot beating summer sun, soothed only by the winds that come and go. Laying out in the sun until we were sweating, bored, and needed to cool down in the ocean. Taking that first dip in the water, finally cool. Crouching down in the knee-deep water so as to submerge ourselves in the water as soon as possible, holding our heads just above the water as we crawl deeper into the ocean. Finally, we can stand comfortably in shoulder-deep water, laughing and splashing each other.

We’d plug our noses and dip our heads under the water for as long as we can, holding a contest for who can stay under longer. My brother shows me how he can do a flip under the water, and I show him I can do a handstand. Our mom tells us to be careful. We laugh and play for a while, until our hands get wrinkly and our stomachs are rumbling for lunch.

Lost in daydreams of my childhood, I came back to real life and realized I had already driven all the way home. I shook my head at the fact that one smell can bring back memories I haven’t thought about in years. Sure, I still want to move off cape, and I think more seriously about it every day, but I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss it. I’ve lived here my whole life, my entire childhood was spent on the beach, baseball fields, the bike path, and my own backyard. When I leave, I’ll be leaving all these memories. Though I don’t have set in stone plans to move any time soon, I’ve been extra nostalgic lately as I drive down the streets I know by heart, worrying someday I might forget them.

Someday, I’ll be coming back to visit my parents, after living somewhere else for years, and I might need directions to go to the grocery store that I currently go to on a weekly basis. I might not remember the name of the street the baseball fields I used to spend summers at. I might be reminiscing with a friend on our childhoods and I won’t be able to remember the name of that park we had so many picnics at, the one that was a dog park for a week a few years ago. We brought our dog Lily there and she made so many friends that week. What if I forget that even happened?

I get that it’s a part of moving on, growing up, I know I’ll make more memories wherever I move, and I’ll know those streets like I know these ones, I just can’t help but feel nostalgic. All these memories made me into the person I am today, part of me worries I’ll lose the childlike wonder I still have if I move away and forget my past.