I long for a past I didn’t live.

I was watching some old adverts from the 1950s, and as the scratchy music saturated the room around me, my retina display screen flickering with the erratic film of times of yore, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of deep sadness and great nostalgia.

I felt as though I belonged somewhere, and left it a long time ago, and these jingles reminded me of a time I was a part of, and yet missed.

It was so strange.

You see, I was born in 1994, the turn of the century. I would say I am a millennial, if even that, right on the cusp of one generation and teetering on the edge of the next.

I grew up with dial-up internet connection, satellite TV and the iPhone revolution. Of course, we didn’t have any of these things, because my parents had old fashioned notions about technology. My mum still thinks she doesn’t need a mobile phone, and laments days of yore when she could do what she wanted without somebody being able to get a hold of her whenever they wanted. It works swell for me, I am an anxious person and I need to check on my mother’s safety, much to her vast irritation!

Of course, there were aspects of my life that were still very reminiscent of times of yore. My grandmother’s kitchen was time capsule, not changed since 1971, and her habits and ways were very much what she had been brought up with in the 40s and 50s. Can you believe she was born in 1935? Before the second world war? My own Nana? The thought fills me with wonder. My mother was a70s – 80s teenager, and the pop songs of the time were what she sang when in a good mood. Songs I never heard but knew off my heart, so when I did hear them I was pleasantly surprised and suddenly sad.

‘Video killed the radio star, video killed the radio star’ over and over when she fried eggs or mopped the kitchen floor. I heard this song throughout my life from her own mouth, and then last month when I was watching Take This Waltz (directed by Sarah Polley) – the song played in one of the scenes, and I had to pause it, sitting up in shock. Hey, this is an actual real song!

When I was in a museum once, a song from 1904 played over and over again, scratchy and faint, and I stopped and stared at a wall for five minutes because I felt as though a rope had suddenly jerked me back through the curtain of time, and I was in a place I had never been, but ached for. I wanted to stay there forever, but at the same time I wanted to run far, far away.

I ache when I watch those old adverts. It’s so strange. What is this phenomenon?

When I scrolled down to see the comments under the video, I noticed quite a lot of other people felt nostalgia for this time too, despite never existing then and never experiencing it.

My husband scoffs at me, he has no time for the old, he is always looking ahead at what is new and innovative and what the future will be. But I seem to be a sad little ghost peering in through cloudy windows at years gone by, straining my ears to hear the voices of decades past. I want them so badly. I don’t know why, or what I want, but I want those sounds, that scratchy record player, those brown shoes, the clatter of forks, the dull brown wallpaper, the 1960 Cadillac, the haze of cigarette smoke, the jingles, the streets, all of it.

My logical mind tells me that this, here, now, 2017, is my time, just like 1962 was their time, and forty years later this will be vintage nostalgia; but I do not see it like that.

And I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

Its the strangest thing, because I am certain I would not particularly like life back in the 1950s. Men were incredibly sexist and women did not have many chances in the world, life was more difficult, and the economy was trying to recover from the Great Depression.

However, I know there were good parts too, else the elders wouldn’t want to talk so much about it.

What do you think? Do you ever feel nostalgia for a time you never lived?

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16 thoughts on “I long for a past I didn’t live.

  1. This is such a strange phenomenon! I, too, experience it. For me, it’s the perceived simplicity of the past. But there are always tradeoffs, and I try to be grateful for all the advances since that time that have offered me a higher quality of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you can relate! It’s a phenomenon alright, but when you mention the culture of your mum’s era I can’t help thinking that perhaps we feel this way because in a way, we have somewhat lived these things through our parents and grandparents? Thank you for stopping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes the past feels more real than the present because we can see and touch certain selected objects that have been preserved, whereas as the present is everywhere and overwhelming. The present of today feels more uncertain to me, but than again I grew up in the Cold War and the threat of a nuclear showdown, so maybe it’s just that the uncertainty changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is incredibly on point, Curtis. You’re absolutely right, things feel more real when you can actually touch them. The uncertainty does change, absolutely, but somehow it feels like growing up in the cold war is far better than growing up in this era where wars begin and end with no official start or end dates.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A nostalgic post, Lenora. I think there are parts of our personal histories or times in history that have a draw, but I wonder if it’s partly that the future is unknown and the world seems in such trouble.There’s nothing stopping us from listening to old music or watching old films, or making sand castles and sitting on a swing if that’s what we wish to do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Diana, there is nothing stopping us at all. And perhaps it might be a coping mechanism, of sorts, to try to touch the past, especially when the present is so harsh! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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