Monday, November 3, 2008

Nostalgia

(To give you fair warning I'm feeling quite introspective and self-indulgent today. If you have a low tolerance for crap you're probably better off skipping this one.)

It's so trite as to be almost embarrassing. It's one thing to let a song take you back, but to be totally blown away by the radio's latest must-play hit? That's never been me. I'm not a top-40 kind of girl. I'm all about classic rock, folk music, the Grateful Dead, music with history, a sense of place and time. But there I was, minding my own business, listening to my car radio (thank god Maya is finally outgrowing her insistence on children's music All! The! Time!) and Kid Rock's (Kid Rock's. Good lord.) All Summer Long came on.

I sat there in the car listening to the words, and they just blew me away. Not because they were so meaningful, or lyrical, or poetic. They're really not. But they were singing my own past back to me. The details are a bit different, I grew up far from Northern Michigan and its lake, I've never even seen a walleye, let alone caught one, and the song was more likely to be Stairway to Heaven than Sweet Home Alabama, but it was my life. My history.

I started laughing when I heard the chorus, remembering how we too spent our days, and our nights, doing the same things, with the long-haired guys and the girls in skimpy bikinis (oh to be that thin again) drinking that Jack Daniels straight out of the bottle that my best friend used to hide in the back of her closet. And all the rest. Yeah, that too. We weren't hard-core delinquents, at least not most of us, but we did know how to teeter right on the edge of the line, sometimes falling one way and sometimes the other. We had the world by the tail. We were so arrogant. We were so clueless. We may not have been half of what we thought we were, or known half of what we thought we did, but damn, we did have a good time. It was a hell of a ride.

Nostalgia is a powerful force. It dulls the edges. Wipes out the hard times. The tears. The fear. Of course it wasn't all good, but that's the thing about time. It softens things. Hides things. Makes you forget. You lose touch with people you once cared deeply about and persuade yourself that it doesn't matter.

It does matter though. It isn't life or death, but it is an anchor. An anchor to who you used to be. I haven't been that rebellious teenage girl in a very long time, such an incredibly long time, but she's still in there somewhere, still a part of me. The shit she pulled, the trouble she got in (or avoided - I was pretty good at the avoidance part), they all combined to form one of the basic building blocks of Robin. Of who I am today, far removed though it seems from the Robin that was.

As I sat there listening, and remembering, I began to think about M, my best friend all through junior high and high school. The one I'd swap bras with (before she got boobs and I didn't, and yes, it does seem gross now, but we were 13 and didn't always remember to wear one when we were going out), the one I'd double-date with, and sneak out of the house at 2am with (M, if you're out there, remember Officer Cole's hat?). The one who was right there with me as I was "tryin' different things" and who was still there to pick up the broken pieces of the ones that didn't work. The one who didn't stop me as I left to go on a date in my slippers - because she too was walking out right next to me in hers! The Be Fri to my st ends. (See, I told you this was going to be a lot of self-indulgent and overly sugary crap. Can't say I didn't warn you.)

M and I went different ways many years ago, and as tends to happen we lost touch. I'd think about her sometimes and wonder where she was, but her mother had moved away and M was living off the grid somewhere in Vermont, ungoogleable except for an outdated reference to Semester at Sea (her, not me). Still, I'd try on occasion as the years went by, but I never found her, and the few other friends I'd kept in loose touch with had no news either.

As I sat there the other day listening to Kid Rock (oh god, there he is again, I sound like a starstruck 14 year old) sing about the good old days I started thinking about her again, about everyone from back then, and decided it was time for my biannual attempt at googling. Except this time, I got a hit. Her name was right there in black and white. She had a Facebook account. I promptly shoved my principles back onto a high shelf (I'd deleted my Facebook account when they'd forbid pictures of nursing mothers - see the Great Virtual Breast Fest button in my sidebar) and signed up for an account, and two minutes later there she was. We've just gotten back in touch now, and haven't really had a chance to talk yet, but we will, and it's good to be back. It feels good to be back.

You can't go home again, but sometimes it's awfully nice to visit.


14 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I know! That song gets me, too.

Dawn on MDI said...

seems to be a day for high school memories. I just got in touch with my senior year homeroom teacher. No longer teaching, she has moved miles away. It will be interesting to explore the different paths our lives have taken since 1983.

Maribeth said...

Ah yes, so many memories of the past. Songs do that to me too.

Insta-mom said...

I did this recently, too. So funny how little things can evoke so many memories.

jill said...

There's something to be said about old friendships that still carry around a ton of weight. I think it's great that you reached out to your long lost friend... hopefully you'll rekindle your friendship!!

Janet said...

I'm glad you reconnected with your friend :-)

"Sunshine" said...

Rockin' Robin! There is always some room for reflection in life. I don't consider your post sugary or sentimental. You weren't trying to manipulate anyone's emotions--you were just remembering a friend from the past (and I agree: it's great that you found her). Your post reminded me a little of myself--I often have a photographic memory attached to each song I hear. It's just like a snapshot. I too love that new Kid Rock song (and the Grateful Dead). Anyway, I'm rambling. Great post!

Kay said...

Music more than any other thing can transport me back and make me think about the "old days".

And that song is great :)

angie said...

How exciting to be back in touch with her. I loved that trip down memory lane!

Phyllis Sommer said...

i didn't realize that was why you were on fbook. what a great re-connect....

laughingatchaos said...

Hmm...don't know this song.
Facebook has found so many of my old friends, it's been worth the time-suck.
And I AM obsessing over today's election. Sigh...is it over YET?

Island Rambles Blog said...

Thanks for visiting my blog...I am spending some time reading your blogs here as the results come in...I also remember so many memories with many old songs...depends what era you are from though!!!!

Carmi said...

I never cease to be amazed at how a simple trigger such as a song or a scent can instantly take me back to a precise slice of my childhood. The mind is an incredible thing.

How cool that you were able to virtually reconnect! I just got my high school reunion notice...am debating how - or even whether - to respond.

anymommy said...

Finally, I am catching up on all my favorite blogs! I love this post. I know exactly the feeling you are talking about, a song, a smell, a glimpse of something that reminds you of the past and suddenly you have this pull in your chest, longing, sadness, nostalgia. Whatever. You captured it. Glad you found your friend!