My generation is nostalgic.
Look around. Packaged memories are everywhere.
They sell us millennium falcons that open beers and t-shirts with our favorite cartoon characters. N64 video game soundtracks have over a million views on youtube. The most common comment is this simple lament: “getting old sucks.”
We’re not old, not yet, but we feel old.
We’ve lived a thousand lives.
I personally have saved a princess form a castle. I’ve battled across the beaches of Normandy and up into Hitler’s evil castle. I’ve even slain a mecha-hitler or two.
I’ve soared through pink and orange cloud kingdoms on the purple wings of a dragon. I’ve explored shipwrecks, swimming deep underwater to collect the blue coins that would recharge my air. I’ve raided temples. I’ve piloted mighty robots. I’ve soared off into the heavens, watched the Galactic Empire’s downfall, hopped from platform to platform on Venus and partied all night long with the kindly Ewoks.
I’ve seen and watched and played and read more than a medieval peasant could ever even dream about.
Such sights I’ve seen. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
I’ve seen it all. We’ve seen it.
We’ve spent our lives living in worlds within worlds.
We grew up on the rug in front of the TV, shooting tortoise shells at cars. We watched John Goodman be an animated dinosaur in New York. We saw what happens when you cross the streams, or when let Ms. Frizzle drive you somewhere, or when you dance with the Goblin King.
More than anything, I think that’s what makes us Nostalgic.
We did so much without doing anything at all.
We got to be kids.
And as an adult, as I sit here at a cheap card table, my right molar hurting from a cavity, I look back on my life and I can see it.
You can see it too, if you just turn around.
There it is, stretching out behind you.
But it isn’t straight.
It isn’t linear like we thought it was going to be from all the books and movies and games. It’s a mess.
It weaves up and down, around boulders and over streams. There’s some heavy woods, some blinding deserts. Ice flows crack together as the frigid water sloshes across their frictionless surfaces, but the path persists.
It meanders, much like this post.
You track it right up to your feet.
You find yourself here, and now.
Is this it?
It could be.
What was it all for? All this wandering, all the mountains and streams and deserts and ice. What was it all for?
And you think back, back to those days at the dire, dire docks. Collecting coins and stars was your only motivation.
Shrouded in a blue glow, a warm blanket, your mouth agape. It’s not just wonder. It’s not your brain shutting off.
It’s getting lost in something else. It’s that brief moment where you forget that you’re you. You’re Mario the plumber exploring a magic castle. You’re a pokemon explorer snapping pictures of wild monsters. You’re James Bond, armed with his trust pp7 and a license to kill.
You’re a kid living in a land of pure imagination.
The games and movies didn’t matter. Not really
It could have been anything.
But they were our anything.
And so I’v sitting here at this cheap card table. I lean back in my even cheaper chair and I pour a glass of scotch and I think. I think about the old days. About collecting oranges from the trees at twilight. About making water balloons with sister. About sailing playmobile ships across our tiny pool.
There was always a storm. The plastic vessels were nigh unsinkable.
I think about those dire, dire docks, and I open youtube and I search “underwater song super mario 64” and I’m greeted by 154,000 friends who have all come to the same place.
They’re all here to remember.
To remember a time when life was about getting coins.
And swimming around pirate ships.
And for a little bit.
Just for a little bit.
We’re someone else.
All of us.
And we float in that blissful dream, carried down the currents to the dire, dire docks.