“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.” – Oscar Wilde
You remember, right?
You step outside your house, excited and eager to start a new year.
On your feet are new shoes, bright and unmarked, ready for those first few scuffs that you will at first try to rub off in a vain effort to keep them pristine, but will soon accept because you know the newness will not last beyond lunchtime anyway. On your back rests a backpack, waiting to be filled with books and homework and secretly-passed love notes from the cute new girl that will sit three desks behind you. You haven’t met her yet, but you’re positive that when you do, she’ll only have eyes for you.
In front of you is the bus or car that will take you to school. Or maybe you will ride your Schwinn or walk with a gaggle of your best friends. However you get there, your mom will be beside you—crying—before you take off, just like she always does on your first day.
Above you, the leaves on the trees that have watched over you year after year flicker green and gold against a cloudless, azure sky and, as they wave you away in the warm breeze with good wishes, one of them breaks off and floats toward you. You catch it, knowing the new girl will appreciate this early autumn beauty and hoping her eyes match its hazel-stained patches.
The world feels perfect and beautiful and wonderful because in that moment, you feel like anything is possible and, more importantly, you just can’t wait for it all to begin.
It is fall.
For many of us, some of our first, best, and most vivid memories are tinged with school-day nostalgia. As children, the time we started over—when the new year really began—wasn’t on January 1st, but in the fall, when we headed back to our classrooms and looked forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. We looked forward to coloring pictures and playing dodgeball and making science projects and then, as we got older, Friday night football games and homecomings and proms and graduation and heading off to college. Once there, we looked forward to dorms and parties and professors and deep conversations and the excitement of figuring what we wanted to do with our lives—where our futures seemed so terribly close and frighteningly uncertain yet so wonderfully full of opportunity and hope. The anticipation of everything was almost as exciting as all the fun we were having.
Then, we blink and here we are: Adults. Working at jobs that don’t seem to fit us quite right, wearing suits that feel the same way, and sitting in offices with claustrophobic walls. Raising families at home. Days jam-packed with soccer games and activities and meetings. Having to be in ten places all at once. Falling asleep at night exhausted, and perhaps, somewhat unfulfilled.
Feeling like we need to recharge—get some real R&R—but not knowing how to even begin to do that because we just can’t find the time.
We no longer have summer breaks to look forward to (unless you are among the lucky teachers who receive this privilege, and deservedly so). Ten-hour work days blur one into another, with no real new beginnings and no real end in sight. June arrives, and we’re not getting a well-deserved summer vacation for all our effort. August and September roll around, and we’re not getting a fresh start.
Days turn into weeks.
And then into months.
And then into years.
And then into our lives.
Everything begins to feel a little too close for comfort: the spaces we inhabit, the walls we’ve built that start to confine us, the lives we lead that feel like they should belong to someone else.
We begin to forget what the anticipation felt like, the hope of new beginnings that held unlimited possibilities. And the tragedy is that the life you end up living resembles nothing at all like the life you wanted for yourself.
We feel like there’s got to be more to it than this.
But then, on a walk outside on a crisp Autumn day—kind of like today—a leaf falls in your path. It crunches underneath your step and the sound of it, like the first few notes of a song you once loved, makes you stop.
And you remember.
You’re transported to your old backyard, where you’re running and laughing and jumping into a pile of freshly raked leaves. You’re lying on your back, watching the late afternoon sun slowly sink below the horizon, the warmth from its last rays your only respite from the cool night air beginning to chill your arms.
“It’s time to get ready for bed,” your mom says after dinner and homework. You smile as your heart skips at the thought of seeing the new girl tomorrow (and yes, you were right about her eyes!), because the promise of her smile makes you look forward to getting up every day.
It’s time to get ready.
Time to get ready for the rest of your life. Time to start fresh. Time to start something. Anything. Because lives filled with possibility, anticipation, hope, and promise are lives worth living.
Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, we want to be that leaf that falls in your path and gives you pause to remember the times in your life that felt simpler, easier, happier, and then use those nostalgic memories to write a better tomorrow for you, for your children, for your families, for your friends, for all of us.
Because now, when the world is filled with dark places and devastation and hate and pain, we have to start somewhere to become more positive people. We believe you can do that by remembering the past and using it to create a happier life today.
So thanks for joining us, fellow nostalgia seekers! We’re excited to begin, and more importantly, we’re glad you’re here.