I’m not exactly the most nostalgic person in the world. I wish I could say it’s because I’m a forward-thinking individual who leaves the past in the proverbial rearview mirror, but it’s not really that. I just don’t... care.
That sounded a little more harsh than it was intended. Of course I care about people I have encountered in my travels over the years, and I realize that every metaphorical hill I have had to climb in the past has made me who I am today (both good and bad), but events and recollections are not something I cling to or treasure. When I reunite with people from my past, I often find myself feeling left out, as my memories aren’t as vivid or cherished as theirs.
Of course, there are the times when a song or athlete or conversation with someone stirs something inside and brings back a flood of memories.
For instance, any time a Beastie Boys song comes on, I find myself transported back to 1986 in the back seat of a packed car singing along with my friends as if we were a whole lot cooler than we actually were. Seeing Joe Montana sport quarter-filled cargo pants in a current television commercial makes me wince, as I remember him as my hero of the 1979 Cotton Bowl for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I watch my daughter throw a ball around the living room and I sometimes get mentally transported back to a time of full-contact Nerf basketball games in my own home as a child.
And there you have it for this column. My daughter.
The nostalgia dial on my brain has cranked up to new levels watching her grow up before my eyes. I get a kick out of how much she enjoys Curious George and Dr. Seuss, the same way I did as a youngster. She started dancing the other night to an old Bruce Springsteen song that came on, just as I used to, though she admittedly does it with much more grace and much less upper-lip biting than her old man.
Don’t laugh. That used to be a hot move. Women from miles around would gather around and watch me awkwardly snap my fingers and shift my balance from one leg to another while...
But I digress.
What actually got me on this topic was the snow we had a few Sundays ago. As Riley was her usual blur of movement, jetting from one noise-making toy to the next, something froze her in her tracks. She slowly approached the back door, came to a complete stop a few feet away and stared silently out the window.
That was her first word upon watching snow fall from the sky. It was followed by a few shrieks of delight, and shifting her head back and forth from us to the snow outside. She was only a few months old last winter, so last year’s snowfalls had no impact on her, except she had to wear bulky clothes she did not particularly care for when she had to go to the doctor’s office or store.
But this one. This one made a mark on her.
We got her dressed quickly, brought her outside and let her explore that white stuff falling from the sky. She stared at the snow on the ground, laughed out loud several times and finally went in to touch it. We watched her play with the snow in her hands, drop it and pick up another handful before taking that inevitable first taste.
Mental note: Explain the origins of yellow snow to her as soon as she is able to understand it.
Watching her run back and forth in the snow kept me smiling. Seeing her fall in the snow and struggle to regain her footing made me laugh. Hitting her with her first snowball made me proud.
Don’t judge. She laughed.
Just watching the joy on her face while she played in the snow made me think back to those great days as a kid. Sledding down big hills, building forts and having massive snowball fights with kids from around the neighborhood, coming back inside to get warm and having some hot chocolate before rolling back out — all those memories came back to me in a rush.
It took me back to a simpler time, before snow made me grumpy because I knew I had to shovel, scrape windows and battle slippery roads and other drivers to get me to wherever life dictated I had to be, snow or not.
I wish I could say this past weekend had the same impact, but it did not. She stood at the door again and watched the snow fall, but it was just too nasty to go outside and play in it Friday. Then Saturday was... well, Saturday was gross, wasn’t it?
We didn’t even go outside on Saturday, and instead battled the screams, tears and frustration of cabin fever.
I assure you, no nostalgia came from that.