What is it about being in your thirties that makes you particularly nostalgic? It can’t just be that it’s the most likely time to be raising children and therefore thinking about your own childhood; previous generations were equally susceptible, and most of them were well into parenthood by the time they were in their thirties.
I can remember growing up in the ’80s amid a wave of ’50s nostalgia, echoed in movies like Back to the Future, The Karate Kid II, and Grease. I remember a car commercial [see the whole scary thing here] featuring a woman in ’50s style polka-dot dress over layers of tulle singing “Gotta Get a Holden Nova” to the tune of Blame it on the Bossa Nova on which I based my primary school graduation dress—with the inevitable addition of 80s iron-crimped hairdo. Poodle skirt + poodle hair = cringe-factor one million. But I was twelve, so I’ll give myself a pass. The ’50s were everywhere in the ’80s.
Then, in the early ’90s, we all donned ’60s pucci-patterened or op art swing tops, boleros stamped all over in peace signs, and John Lennon sunglasses. We danced to Lenny Kravitz (aka faux Jimi Hendrix) and the B-52s, and Dee-lite. Ten years on, we were still looking back thirty years. And now, in 2015, ’80s retro gear is everywhere. So I figure the phenomenon of thirty-year-throwbacking is less about having kids of your own, and more about the fact that thirty-year-olds hold the business reins in any generation, and they can shower the newer generations with stuff from their own wonder years. It still doesn’t explain why the fourth decade is when nostalgia hits hardest, but it might explain why it seeps so much into fashion, music, and other media.
Aside: I must be careful now, because for a while I’ve been sitting on a rant about these “why my generation is better than yours” and “I lived in the [insert decade of your youth] and survived!” type posts I keep seeing everywhere. About that, I’ll just say: stop it. Please. Your parents thought the same thing about you, and your kids will say the same thing to their kids. All it does is make you sound old. Stop.
Now, what I really want to talk about is MY nostalgia. Hey, my blog, my stuff, right?
And today—which just happens to be a Thursday—my youth arrived in Norway. Six tea-chest sized boxes I packed four months ago on our most recent trip home to Australia have finally arrived, the result of a final clean-out of my (very patient and generous) dad’s shed. Thanks also must be showered upon my step-mum, who married one hoarder and shouldn’t have to put up with hoarding-once-removed.
Over the years, I have culled much of the stuff my dad stored after I left for Norway. This time when I went through it, there wasn’t much left I could bear to part with. But I live in Norway now, and I decided it was only fair that if I wanted to keep this stuff, it should be with me. It shouldn’t just exist somewhere for the hell of it. And so the sum total of twenty nine years of hoarding treasured possessions were packed into six crates along with some Christmas presents and summer clothes we wouldn’t need on our return to Norwegian winter. And now they’re here. And the nostalgia is absolutely intoxicating. I mean, just check some of this stuff out:
And there is much, much more. Toys, books, photos, school reports, stories I wrote, the entire catalogue of The Sims games . . . I have no idea what to do with most of this stuff. Likely it will be consolidated into fewer boxes once my daughter has bogarted all the soft toys and dolls, and stored in our attic. But this is my childhood, physical markers giving me access to memories of simpler times when the most stressful thing in my life was that I had to go back to school with the same pencil case as the year before (not an exaggeration—this is an actual diary entry, punctuated with palpable pre-teen anxiety).
Many people eye-roll at Throwback Thursday (or #TBT) posts on social media, but I love them. I love seeing other people’s, I love finding my own. I love memories. I love these boxes and everything in them. It all reminds me how far I have come, how much things have changed, and how far I still have to go, and how many things haven’t changed at all. In simpler language, nostalgia and memories are the keys to perspective, and if we clean it all out and stop looking at it, that perspective gets lost.
P.S. It’s not hoarding when it makes you feel genuinely grateful for the life you’ve had.
Here are some interesting links about the toys in these photos: