July 16th, 2008

On nostalgia

For my birthday, my friend Shannon gave me Listography, a workbook compiled by Lisa Nola so you can make up an autobiography in lists, cued by prompts in the book (or on the website. Obviously, fun for those of us who like lists, and possibly a little OCD for those who do not. I’m ok with that, and appreciate Shannon’s endorsement of my fetish.

Still, not every list is magic–the one I made of every address I’ve ever had was depressing, mainly because I can’t remember the apartment number of a place I live in seven years ago, which is frustrating for my obsession. I probably can’t remember every toy and game I ever played with, either, but that toy-and-game list *is* magic, because there are plenty of them I *do* remember, and those toys are far enough in the past that I feel a pleasant burst of oh-I-remember thinking of them, whereas I still have most of the same furniture from the apartment of no-particular-number.

Oh, kid nostalgia! It’s been making the rounds lately, must be seeing all the water-fights in the park. Kerry and I were pleased to find we both desired a Power Wheel and never got one. I was mentioning to a less-astute friend that I still think Power Wheels are cool, and he said, “Uh, don’t you have a driver’s license now?” As if that makes it any better! Driving acar is totally not the point.

Nevertheless, my parents weren’t stupid–they knew that kids that could make an afternoon out of playing with a toad and drinking from the hose (my friend Nancy reminded me of that long-lost glee!) didn’t need to drive around the backyard. I don’t mean to paint my youth as quite the countryside idyll of Laura Ingalls or anything–we were as obsessed with Nintendo as any kids anywhere, we just also had the toads and the fields and spring run-off, etc.

And then eventually, you get into high-school and either start trying to be cool or actually are, and either way there’s a lot less time to waste on playing–what are toys and games but ways to occupy people who don’t have anything else to do.

I wrote a story once about hanging on to kid games when you’re in high school, about not feeling up to growing up–it’s called Grade Nine Flight. I always forget about that one, because it was written ages ago, though it later appeared on The Danforth Review, that wonderful online journal of (mainly) the short story. Someone reminded me of it recently, because it’s the only actual story that comes up when you google me (TDR archives all their stuff). She read it wanting to know what my work is like, and there’s a kind of double-nostalgia here, because that story is in a very different vein than my work these days. I’m not only nostalgic for childhood, I’m nostalgic for three years ago.

I’ll go back to that sort of story one of these days, I’m sure. On Monday night, in High Park, I saw a toad.

When Johnny saw the numbers he lied

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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