I have always been a person who looks forward instead of backwards, who lives in the present instead of the past. It has always seemed to me that is the best way to live, to learn from the experiences of the past, but to keep my thoughts and energy focused on the future.
I am not nostalgic. I don’t know where my high school yearbook is, or really if I even still have it. I don’t save sentimental memoirs. While some folks are “pack rats” and save everything, I tend to follow the philosophy that when something has not been used in a year, it isn’t worth saving.
I’m not interested in genealogy. I don’t keep in touch with distant relatives or old friends. I moved here from an another city where I lived for four years and have never been back to visit. In fact, I go back to the city where I lived for 20 years only because my immediate family is still there.
In view of all this, I have had a very unusual week. I joined an online community that encouraged me to get in touch with groups that I was once associated with but left behind as life went forward and day to day living took up all my time. At first I felt a bit reluctant to provide the information asked for, but finally I filled in the blanks and dates: where I went to school, where I went to college, and where I grew up. The computer searched the data bank and names came up of people that I could contact who went to the same school, or lived in the same town. I did not recognize anyone, but there they were.
The way the on-line community works, a request is sent to a person with a common interest, and if the person is willing to have you contact them, you are automatically notified. When my first contact came, it was a person who went to my high school at approximately the same time as me. What a strange feeling. I went to high school with this person, but we both went in different directions to live our lives apart and without ever knowing each other.
My next contact came and it was someone who lives in the small town where I grew up and spent my childhood. I had almost forgotten that the little town even existed; yet here was someone who lives there today. The town is still alive, still there after all these years – changed, I’m sure, but so much a part of who I am.
And so the plug that held back the past was pulled. As I revisit old places, I am getting in touch with a part of myself that I somehow lost. Finding my roots? Yes, I suppose that is it. No matter whether we wish to admit it or not, all those places, all those people, all those ghosts from the past still live inside us – indeed are us. I was flung backwards and traveled through time to another place in another life.
I have heard that life travels in circles. If this is true, perhaps we can only know where we are going when we know where we have been. And so people who were there but are now here has mysteriously united the past and the present. Life goes on as it did before, but something came together for me. I remembered a person I used to know long ago and I was the person.
©Sheila Moss 1999
NOTE: Are you nostalgic? Do you stay in touch with people from your past? Just wondering.