Nostalgia is something with which i have a sometimes uneasy relationship. Get me on a nostalgia trip and there’s a very good chance that, although things will start out just fine, it won’t be long before i’m wallowing – and very badly wallowing – in a gloopy, claggy pit of the stuff, hell-bent on sucking away my usually firm footing and leave me wading through misty-eyed reminiscings that do me no good at all.
The past – with a few notable exceptions – almost always seems to me a much better place than the present. Wearing my rosy-hued spectacles of memory, i find it terribly easy to gloss over most of the not-so-good times and only appreciate – with an often gut-wrenching feeling of loss – the ways in which the snows of yesteryear were always far whiter, crisper and much more enjoyable than their present-day counterparts. i’m not so foolish as to imagine that’s true – but i simply can’t help believing it is. Sadly though, when it comes to the dojo of life, the reality is that i’m a black belt at ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’.
When it comes to the past, i’m a complete sucker for its allure… give me a time-machine and you won’t find me heading off to the distant future – nope, instead you’ll see me recapturing the past of ten, fifteen, twenty years or so ago, and giving myself a great big boot up the backside! The truth of the matter is that reminiscing may start off all syrupy and sugar-coated, but within a very short space of time, you’ll find me stuck in a maudlin rut of of post-memory despondency. In many ways, the past is very much better where it is.
Perhaps weirdly, the same tends to be true for the virtual world – although i have something of a passion for the history of sl and the desire to preserve the artefacts of my own progress through this alternative existence is very strong, it is rare that i will indulge in romanticising what has gone before, or spending time in nostalgic reveries about the ‘good old days’ of the past. Certainly, coming late to sl makes me feel like i’ve missed out somewhat, especially since many of my friends are real old-timers in the very best sense of the word, and it fascinates me when they talk about sl as it used to be, but looking back along my own timeline is not a pursuit that you’ll find me indulging in too often.
However, of late, for some reason i’ve found myself travelling once well-worn pathways, that for quite some time have been pretty neglected and been cast into that folder of my mental inventory labelled, ‘almost forgotten’. The past few weeks has seen me digging out old landmarks that haven’t been clicked on for a very long time indeed – of course, this being sl, many have changed beyond recognition, or simply disappeared, whilst others have barely altered since i last set foot there. i’ve caught myself going through old chat logs and calling up the profiles of people i once knew and passed the time with – people i never see or hear from these days. It’s a very strange and – in many ways – emotional, journey.
The Penny Lane sim, which has pretty much been my home for the past three years has changed substantially, and often, over that period – not least, (for me anyway), in the interest i have vested in it. When i first took up residence there, i had a single, rented room, with a cracked window and barely enough room to swing my cat, (he enjoyed it, honest!); now i have a sizeable chunk of land, big enough to lose a horse in! As the sim has changed, so in a way have i: i used to enjoy nothing better than hang out in my motel room late at night, then when nobody else was around, wander the streets listening to the almost constant Beatles on the audio stream, punctuated by the occasional howling wolf, (anything is possible in Penny Lane!). i’d forgotten all about it until earlier this week, when i found myself all alone and the stream treated me to a whole string of Beatle’s songs. Instantly, i was transported back to those happy moments – i’d forgotten just how good it made me feel.
We change; sl changes; other people come and go and change along the way – perhaps nostalgia is one of the ways that we manage to preserve the things that matter to us. And, perhaps, it’s because reminiscing about those things inevitably brings back the less-than-wonderful times that often surrounded the good that cause me to hold back when the past, whether sl or rl, tries to muscle into the present.
Although, when the occasional, magical memory does resurface, i wouldn’t swap it for the world.
There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
The Beatles – In My Life