By Mike Leung
I grew up in a Ranchlands cul-de-sac chock full of rowdy, violent kids. The Bay, as we called it, served many purposes: it was a street hockey arena, a battlefield and a playground filled with yards, sprinklers and everything else a mostly-healthy childhood needs.
These days, life isn’t what it was back then. The regular grind of school makes us forget. Instead we look upon our younger siblings with a gripping nostalgia that can be as vivid as a childhood memory.
Then deadlines sweep that all away.
These thoughts entered my mind as I filled out my graduation forms only one week ago. Lately, it’s hard not to be stunned by scores of hardcore reality checks of which graduating is only the first example. I can’t get up as easily or tolerate copious amounts of alcohol like I used to. I have no idea what I’m doing come May 1. My girlfriend mentions marriage off-handedly, but I’m pretty sure she’s not hinting yet considering we almost broke up last month.
What the fuck is going on?
Life didn’t stop, it appears. Maybe that’s why there’s this longing and yearning for all things nostalgic in popular culture and otherwise. In fact, we churn out products of nostalgia in the way only our society can. We consume movies with categories like "Classics" or "Westerns"-both constructing a past brimming with warm fuzzies. Chrysler’s PT Cruiser resembles a milk truck more than anything else. We all long to feel the Den’s stanky carpet beneath our feet, sopping with beer, sweat and piss.
This is a phenomenon we can’t ignore-a phenomenon not unlike my childhood memories, product attached. But it isn’t the product that’s important, it’s the feeling of nostalgia that motivates it all.
As people grew older in The Bay, things started to change. Among certain friends of mine, the northwest suburb of Ranchlands-an nostalgic name itself-became better known for the kids that ceaselessly roamed the neighbourhood at night on BMX bikes. I do not deny that I became one of these kids later on, although I never did join the BMX posse. A friend of mine and I even got to know the attendant at the local 24-hour gas station. Eventually he even sold us cigarettes, 15-year-olds that we were.
So when I drop my grad forms off at the registrar’s office, memories like those will run through my mind. I’ll be thinking about how when I was a kid, I couldn’t believe I might one day be the same age as my parents. I’ll be contemplating how life milestones like graduation come up much too quickly, while our lives are completely steeped in the day-to-day. I’ll ponder how we grasp at the wisps of a past written only in our minds.