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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Poppy

Resilient.

That is what I would call her. She flounders, sometimes, in the shallows of life. Her heart may seem weak, but I secretly know she is just sensitive. She thinks too deeply about things.

He says she is drowning in ‘her vortex’.

Why, she asks, do they write about sad things, and try to make jokes out of them?

I think about what she means. She means those dark comedy sitcoms. You know, where the family are poor and there are lots of rude sex jokes, and dirty people saying filthy things, and jokes about mental instability and emotional unavailability.

Those are dark things. She says, Things you should keep hidden away. Things you mustn’t make light of.

Why?

Because the world needs to see happiness and hope. Not misery accompanied by obnoxious music. If I am unhappy, why would I want to laugh at other people’s unhappiness?

It’s just a TV show.

People drink too much alcohol and are seen as ‘party types’, adventurous and daring. People have ‘daddy issues’ and are blunt and rude about other people. People joking about the pills they pop to hide their deepest pains. People unconscious because of intoxication. When did this become a norm in society? What happened to living and laughing and talking genuinely about real things?

It’s just.. a TV show, Poppy.

She dances quietly in the rain, sometimes. Her movements, although rhythm-less, have a certain cadence. The way her arms move around her head, the way her bare feet touch the wet grass, gently kissing the sodden blades before moving on to another spot. The way her throat supports her face, craned towards the pregnant, grey heavens.

I think, sometimes, that you have to let life into your skin.

I don’t know what that means, Poppy.

When she works, she is vigilant. She is furious. When she sleeps, she is restless. Her eyes are always wandering.

Once she saw an old lady outside with no stockings. She rushed indoors and brought her a cape. The old woman, pushing her trolley before her, shook her away irritably.

What do you think I am, senile?!

Poppy stared as she hobbled away down the road. I couldn’t read the expression on her face.

She was vibrant, alive. But there was always a heavy sadness clinging to her. In her eyes, sometimes, when she thought I wasn’t looking.

I feel lonely, Sebastian.

I’m here, Poppy.

I .. know.

Your life, always, over mine, Poppy.

 

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On Buttercups and Balance

Two years ago the sun was shining and buttercups rippled across the field I could see from my window. I could watch the sun rise, and set, and then rise again, throwing its magnificent morning rays over the world, through a film of atmospheric cloud. There were no buildings to start and stop the process, and watching that orb climb slowly up the horizon was a bliss I could never miss.

Hazy mornings turned into stunning afternoons, every colour highlighted and illuminated by the bright summer sun.

I was not happy then, even though I had everything I’d dreamed of growing up in an Arabian desert. I dreamed of blue skies to replace my dusty brown ones. I dreamed of vivid greens and the smell of freshly cut grass, to replace my fake grass and the dismal beige weeds that decorated the sand sparsely. I was not happy, though.

And I ate my feelings.

I am not happy now, either.

I just can’t seem to find a good balance in life.

Back then I had no car and no job and was stuck in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours and and no way of getting away unless I spent a fortune on bus fares, which I couldn’t afford because I had no job.

Now I have a job but I have to travel away from home to go to it and it is causing a raucous in my family life.

I suppose it is in the human nature to always want more and never be satisfied with what they have.

I suppose it is also a matter of finding balance. And being content, and making reasonable decisions.

Also there is an element of faith here. Maybe my faith is weak at the moment. In fact, I know it is. And that is why I feel so lost and discontent.

 

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This was such a beautiful day. I walked for hours and hours with nothing but the silence, the wind, the sunlight, the soft swish of swaying grasses to keep me company. 

Hey Jude

By the Beatles.

Is one of my favourite songs. It’s soft, and subtle, and sweet. It reminds me of cycling along stretches of country road, as the summer wastes away into autumn, as the breeze is not so cold yet, nor warm enough for bare arms. It reminds me of tight black jeans, a blazer thrown on top, hair long and tightly knotted at the back, pristine for an interview. It reminds me of the tunnel to escape. Not long now. A week or two, I’m out of his clutches. It gives me a heartache, but not an unpleasant heartache.

Oh yes, it’s called nostalgia.

It reminds me of people I used to know, friends I used to have, could have beens.

It reminds me of my old self.

Maybe I was more happy, bubbly, bright. Maybe I was more interesting. Maybe I didn’t make it so bad, I took a sad song and made it better.

I did, though. I took all the sad songs and smiled through them as I sang along, cycling up hills and down hills and through fields of cotton and thistle. It was my cycling song. Through the sun and rain, panting, red, hot and happy.

Hey, Juude

Don’t make it bad

Take a sad song, and make it better

Remember

To let her into your heart

Then you can staa-art

To make it better

That was my happy song. Now I don’t have a happy song anymore. My bike gets left for months, whereas before we were together everyday, exploring the suburbs, going further and further. My painting is cold. My journeys are less. My social interaction has stopped. I am like an old and battered train slowing to a halt.

I shouldn’t be like this. I shouldn’t be feeling heavy because my husband doesn’t appreciate me. I shouldn’t be trudging daily in the same old boring routine. I shouldn’t be settled.

I am not settled. I am married, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to be settled. I realise now that everybody reckons I need to be settled. They don’t understand my need to escape and be free. With or without my moody husband. He can come along if he promises not to be such an adult about things. And not expect me to be the adult. If his mother doesn’t expect me to mother him, and make sure he’s eaten and rested. He can do that for himself. And not to think bad of me if I don’t do that. Because I don’t need to. He relies on it now. He expects it. What started as a kindness on my part has turned into a drudgery.

And sometimes I am reproved for not doing it. For not putting his clothes away. I know, he works hard. I KNOW. I didn’t agree to living in a tiny room where I must keep all my possessions that were once in a big house in order. It’s hard to do that when you have one chest of drawers between you. I know, there is always a solution. I KNOW THIS. BUT MAYBE I DON’T WANT TO FIND THE SOLUTION. I DON’T WANT TO ALWAYS TIDY UP AFTER YOU, AND LISTEN TO YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT ALL THE TINY DETAILS.

OH, THE WIRE IS STICKING OUT.

OH, THERE’S DUST ON MY MODEL CAR.

OH, THE BEDSHEET ISN’T CHANGED.

OH.

YOU SMELL LIKE YOU COOKED A CURRY. DID YOU COOK A CURRY? I HATE THAT SMELL.

WELL, NO I DIDN’T. YOUR MOTHER DID. I WAS PRESENT. AND SO WHAT IF I SMELL LIKE THAT. IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL. DEAL WITH IT.

OH, I WON’T SMILE AT YOU BECAUSE YOU ANNOY ME. OH, STOP TALKING, I WANT TO WATCH FAMILY GUY. OH, WHERE’S MY SPOON SO I CAN EAT THIS DINNER YOU BROUGHT FOR ME. OH. YOUR FEET ARE TOO COLD. OH. YOUR HAIR IS FLAT. OH. YOU HAVE SIDE FAT. OH. WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO THE GYM, LENORA. OH. I AM A MOODY SOD AND I DON’T FEEL LIKE BEING HAPPY.

Well neither did I, Damian. But I am. I am putting up with it because I love you. Sometimes it’s hard to show it. It’s hard to love a man who only sees what he wants to see and calls his wife clumsy. IT’S HARD. BUT I DO IT. SO STOP TELLING ME YOU LOVE ME AND START SACRIFICING AND ACTING LIKE IT.

Maybe I married a child. Sometimes it feels like that.

I didn’t agree to this. I demanded we get our own place. I didn’t agree to move willy nilly depending on his job. Yes he is the main breadwinner, and I.. don’t… know.. why.. I agreed to that.

I guess I just want to experience my age. And I am not doing that right now. I feel like I am somebody’s mother. I feel like I am being controlled by another mother. Do this, go here. Oh, you’re back at 9pm, isn’t that late? Did your mother tell you off? No she didn’t, but you sure want to.

I want to be out till late. I love being out till late. Is it unsafe? Maybe, but I can’t live my life in constant fear and protection. I will not be cotton woolled.

I don’t want to live here anymore. I don’t want to feel guilty because I woke up at eleven in the morning on a Sunday. I don’t want to feel bad because I didn’t get to clean the bathroom in time before my MIL cleaned it. Every scrape of the brush on the floor sounds accusing to me. I don’t want to have to think about my every move, every word I say. I don’t want to live under somebody else’s roof and I DON’T want to order my shopping on your online shop!!! I know this sounds plaintive and petty, but my goodness, I just wanted to cycle to ASDA and get my own things. I know you meant well, but insisting that I do it online with your shop just makes me feel controlled and not free.

My chest is tight, my thoughts are cold, I feel annoyed and closed in. So closed in.

I know they care. I know they want the best for me. I know I am part of their family now.

I

Just

Feel

So

Suffocated.

My husband is being a cold fish to me.

He wasn’t always like this, folks. I know what he is truly like. But hard times are pressing on both of us, and he always comes out worse for the wear. I smile through it. Sometimes I have a cry, and then I get on with it. I try to make jokes. Make a funny. Smile, give kisses, cheer myself up by doing impressions. But not he. He withdraws into himself, and becomes moody and selfish.

So I am getting in my car, and driving three hours to the beach, and spending the day there. I will walk for miles, I will feel the wind on my face, I will shiver with cold, I will breathe. Then I will decide what I want to do with my life, and I will do it.

 

 

Lamenting my Toes

Today

As I wheeled by bike

Out into the wonderful outdoors

Fresh, cold wind on my face

Up my ankles

Fanning my cheeks

I heard the trees swishing their bare branches

The birds tweeting

The hills rolled away in the distance

I climbed aboard

I squeezed the handlebars

And I thought to myself

Goodness gracious me

I am twenty two in 26 days

TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD.

Only eight years or so,

Until I am thirty.

When you reach thirty, folks,

You have hit the point of no return.

You’re a true adult,

At thirty.

The truth is, folks

I still feel twelve.

In fact,

I still feel six

Looking down at my feet

To see how far off the ground is

And wonder if I’ve grown a little

I still feel small.

Nowadays,

When I look at my feet,

It is only to have adult thoughts

And lament about my long toes,

 

The coursework that I have to submit,

Or the bills I need to sort out,

Or the..

Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?