I’ve been feeling awfully introspective lately, and a little bit sentimental, too.
Perhaps it’s this time of year, where we are perched precariously between seasons: in a few short weeks, the last of the leaves will fall, leaving us with the gray, barren branches of winter, the ones that always, for some inexplicable reason, make me think of my childhood.
I spent my grade school years growing up in a quintessential, suburban Colonial house in South Carolina. Aside from being adorned with pink heart wallpaper and furnished with my mom’s girlhood 1960’s Dixie White and Gold dresser and desk, my second-floor bedroom was equipped with a large window that looked out over our sprawling front yard.
In that yard, a tall, strong tree stood, one that waved us away to school in the morning and welcomed us home in the afternoon with outstretched branches mimicking a massive set of open arms. My dad helped me move my desk in front of the window so I could sit at it and look out at that tree as I read and colored and drew and wrote in my little turquoise diary with its tiny, plastic, silver lock.
I’d sit and watch as the tree’s baby leaves sprouted in the spring, and then I’d watch them grow. And when fall rolled around and those final leaves fluttered to the ground, I would still be sitting there, lost in thought, wondering if the upcoming winter would bring us snow. The mild South Carolina winters we experienced meant we never had much of the white stuff—hardly any to be exact—but that didn’t deter my hope each year that those elusive, shimmering, sparkly ice crystals might fall and fill those branches up once more.
Season after season, I’d sit there—waiting, hoping, and wishing—for something truly magical to happen.
So perhaps my introspection and sentimentality stems from this seasonal suspension, the one in which I still wait for nature’s magic to manifest, but, more than likely, I think it’s something else. While these feelings stem from memories of my past, they come from a place that aren’t nearly as aged or worn.
Just last week, this little blog of mine turned one year old, which means that one year ago, there I was, sitting at my adult-sized desk, working on its barren beginnings. In an effort to fill my adult-sized spaces of waiting and hoping and wishing with deep and meaningful and true things, I was writing. I was trying to find a way to make magic manifest itself in my life again. And I was wondering if—through my words—something wonderful might start falling into place.
* * *
There’s a reason I wanted something wonderful so badly: At the time I started The Nostalgia Diaries, life seemed to be getting the best of me.
This time last year, I’d been divorced only four months, I’d been living in my new apartment only six, and my days were spent trying to fix the battered heart that sat nestled in my tired, unhealthy body—the one I was working hard to heal. Needless to say, I was a whirlwind of emotions thrown into a set of circumstances, ones that were new and exciting and wonderful, but also—at times—scary and unsettling and uncomfortable. I felt like I was an adult putting on the lost clothes of my teenage years, only to find the shirt was too short and the jeans were just a bit too tight.
And when you’re wearing an outfit like that, who wants to face the world?
I certainly didn’t. My solution was to choose an existence where my time was spent retreating to the safe, sparse cocoon I created with my daughter, Zoey, in our new home—a place where we spent our days together, quietly trying to navigate the nuances of our new reality and attempting to be gentle and patient with ourselves along the way.
I was determined I could single-handedly find a way to conquer all the beasts of my past and the new ones stumbling into my present, but no matter how hard I tried, so many days found me in a mess of tears. I quickly realized something wasn’t quite right. My me-against-the-world approach simply wasn’t working, and there I was, stuck again, not sure how to best move forward.
I was lost and lonely—for myself and for the person I’d once been before I had to grow up. Before I became a mom. Before I became a wife and then an ex-wife. Before I became an employee doing work that didn’t quite align with all the things I once dreamt of doing. And not only was I lonely for that lost connection with myself, deep down I also felt the tug of longing—of craving—for a connection to something more.
I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I needed to find it. So I decided to do something I’d done all those years ago while I sat at that vintage, white desk, staring at that empty tree: I decided to start writing again.
My thought process was fairly simple: Maybe if I shared my story, I might be able to find my way back to myself again. Maybe there were others that would be able to relate to my words, and, like me, find answers in them. And maybe—just maybe—by putting fingers to keys, I’d discover a way to move forward.
And guess what?
It’s amazing how doing something you once did as a child can instantly make you feel at ease with yourself again, how it can help you rediscover dreams you once kept close to your heart, and how quickly you are able remember who you once were even after years of being someone else.
* * *
To be honest, I still feel like I’m figuring all of this out, just like I was a year ago. Many of the feelings I had back then, I still feel today: a little stuck and unsure of what’s around the corner. In some ways, I’m sure it will always be like this, me, fumbling a little bit as I continue to navigate those everyday nuances I’ve come to accept as life.
But there are so many reasons why this writing journey has been so necessary for me. It has enhanced and enriched my life. It has given me a renewed purpose. It has helped my heart heal. It has challenged me to look at my life differently. It has made me a better mother and a better person. I’m a little less lonely, the days filled with tears are few and far between, and my life—the one that was so ill-fitting for so long—has finally started to take the shape of me again.
What’s more, that craving I once had for a connection to something more was found—and I found it in all of you, my dear readers. In your kind words and warm thoughts written in emails and posted across this blog and on Facebook and Instagram, I feel supported. In your prayers of comfort when I’m grieving or sad or struggling, I find peace. And in your friendship and love and encouragement, I am reminded of something I forgot so very long ago, that the connections we create in our lives are the ones that will carry us through even the darkest of days.
* * *
So thank you for sitting here beside me and sharing in my journey. In your words and in your understanding and in your admissions of ‘”Oh, yes, I feel that way, too!”, I’ve discovered we are all perched precariously between two lives: the ones of our past, and the ones of our tomorrows. And while that’s a scary place to be, a closer look reveals it is also one of great beauty, of new beginnings, of astounding growth, and of shimmering, sparkling, open-ended possibilities.
It is the place where magic happens, and it is the reason why I keep writing. And it is in this place where the realization happens as to why it is called the present:
Because inside my stories—inside our stories—we are in good company. Inside these pages of the lives we are creating, lines are etched that allow our hearts connect, and together, we are able to all look ahead, waiting and hoping and wishing for the makings of magic to fall in place beside us, covering our once barren branches with beauty once again.
And isn’t that the most wonderful gift of all?
* * *
Let me know: What are you doing right now to make magic happen in your life? Do you have anyone helping you along the way?
Corey is a writer, graphic designer, and mom to her amazing daughter, Zoey. Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, her goal is to simplify, enhance, and engage people’s lives by helping them focus on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.