Nostalgia Ain’t What it Use to Be

I have always disliked nostalgia. Going back into the past has seldom been pleasant for me, because it was always accompanied by a feeling of loss, of time that can’t be recaptured. But recently I had a completely different experience of nostalgia.

I couldn’t sleep. Three in the morning and I was lying in bed wide awake, wondering if I should get up and make a coffee and maybe do something. Then the memories started coming. They were short, vivid, detailed, and totally random. They ranged from fishing in the little creek when I was six years old, carrying the little trout home in my pockets, cleaning them and watching my mother fry them up for my breakfast to taking a standing ovation in Alice Tulley Hall after the screening of “Skip Tracer” at the New York Film Festival. Sometimes they connected into a chain – meeting my first wife, greeting her in Toronto after her nightmare drive across the country with her mother and sisters, having to convince her to marry me after she’d had three days of her mother trying to convince her not to, honeymoon in Niagara Falls with the bed that wouldn’t stop vibrating, driving back to Maple Ridge after we were married, and harvesting a grouse for dinner on the way with my sling shot., meeting her grandmother in Saskatchewan and going to the farm to buy Sally Squink, our wiener piglet, Sally in the motel room after breaking out of her crate, her tiny hooves clicking on the tile floor, Sally weaning herself on yellow plumbs, grown up Sally plowing a furrow through my aunt’s lawn. Flip to running across the street in London to the Japanese restaurant to get a cup of hot saki because it was so bitterly cold. Flip to being parked and knocked off the road by an oncoming truck while leaning over the front seat to get my sound gear together on the back seat, resulting in bending the steering wheel with my back while my wife got a concussion, followed by the ambulance ride. Flip to scenes from China, from Guangzhou, from Vietnam, from Thailand, from Australia, classrooms and students, tours of ancient villages. And back to teen years again at university. Playing chess at the Club Voltaire in Frankfurt, exploring the castle in Koenigstein, feeding the gophers while hitching to Toronto, the long lonely drive to L.A. on my hunt for work…. It just went on and on. For hours.

But this time the nostalgia wasn’t painful. It was more like watching a corny old feel good movie with lots of plot turns and high drama. It was like flipping through pages of my life. It was comforting. What an incredible ride it has been. I’m still sad that it’s over, but there’s nothing in there that I regret. Not even the moments of emotional pain that, at the time, made suicide seem an attractive alternative.

I thought about writing it all down. Writing my autobiography. And then I thought why? Who would want to read it? Why would I want them to read it?

Fuck off. This was my life. You can’t have it.

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