premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

In life there come times and places for change and transformation to occur, often cyclically. My life so far has been a whirlwind of such cycles of change, and as I find myself facing an upcoming journey, I have been preparing for yet another move, per usual to an eventual destination unknown. I believe plans to be overrated. Personally I find the more I try to force a happening as a piece of an idea my brain has decided should happen, the more it doesn’t feel like a fit. I much prefer to set clear intentions for how I want to live my life, and then allow the universe to present the opportunities to me in the right moments.

Last week as I cleared a bookshelf in the hopes of removing it and all the books I had hoped I would read, I came across old journals, which I began flipping through out of curiosity for what I might find.

I landed on pages from a few years ago, when I spent my days at my possible height of whimsical creativity, writing fairy tales every day and scribbling messy maps of each story beforehand outside the lines of my notebook, in my style, which is mostly indecipherable to nearly everyone else. My mind immediately traveled back to that point in time—how alive and free I felt, how bright-eyed and full of hope.

There’s this funny thing about nostalgia. It never exists in the present. Except for the present form of premature nostalgia I am currently experiencing, on the brinks of leaving this city I have grown to love and dislike in the same exact breath. My mind has already transported itself to a future state, one in which my present is past. I watch through the futuristic lenses I have taken to wearing, absorbing bits and pieces of a landscape I know I will feel nostalgic for down the road. The anticipation of nostalgia is enough to drive anyone wistfully crazy.

I love walking through my neighborhood in the sunny evenings, meeting new puppies with crystal blue eyes and watching children riding on the backs of tandem bicycles with orange tutus flying in the wind. I love climbing the hill that I can see from my window, watching as it turns different shades depending on the time of year. Green to brown to red to gold to brownish-green again.

I love the cafés, farmers markets, healing avenues, friends, teachers, and community I have found here. I feel as though I’m already watching my life in this place through a microscope of reminiscent remorse—remember when? And that one time, how we (fill in the blank)? Living in the space where beauty and growth and so-much-else happened?

The funny thing about nostalgia is she firmly resolves not to give the slightest bit of notice to anything less than the level of goodness she wants to believe. Her rose-colored lenses block out the heartbreak I was unknowingly experiencing, as well as a toxic learning experience I skipped right into, wearing a berry jacket with the hood up, emanating the innocence of Little Red Riding Hood in more ways than one during the peak of my fairy tale days years ago. Premature nostalgia is quick to forget about how I cried at least daily, for a year here. How within this city I found myself wishing, desperately, I could disappear.

I’m discovering nostalgia doesn’t only exist as past remembrance. It also happens in the present, particularly on the brinks of future change. It reminds us of why we may not truly want to change, because we kind of like our lives as-is for xyz reasons.  Anticipated nostalgia keeps us resistant to both moving forward and truly embracing the moment we are in.

These prematurely nostalgic thoughts do not serve me. It’s like when we’re about to leave a job that we’ve complained about for years, but suddenly the boss doesn’t seem so bad and the perks appear to outweigh the cons.

Any kind of change is scary, particularly one that clears out all things from our lives—both what we love and what we don’t love so much. But we can take the aspects we love, such as the feeling of walking up the hill at sunset, or the discovery of lying in a luscious patch of green grass in the late-summer sun. We can hold these bits of time in a pocket in our hearts, to return to whenever our memories recall the feeling of it. And I believe we can do so without nostalgic remorse, but from a place of loving understanding that the exact state of being we recall, while beautiful, can be beautifully remembered in the present, rather than with longing to return to a time passed.

Because the point of life is to stay present to it. And through the melancholy of my nostalgia, both from a time long-gone and the anticipation of it, I lose the ability to be present, as well as to embrace my life in its current form.

Now that I recognize the premature nostalgia standing on my reluctant shoulders, I can turn my head and give her a light smile and a nod. She understands the meaning, and already knows it’s time to leave. She’s clouding my ability to fully enjoy my last few weeks here. The seeds she scatters do not allow me to step, fully, into this moment and the place of change happening.

And so, moment by moment, I can choose to be presently involved again, living free of nostalgia for the past or even the future-past present.  


please don’t call me when you’re lonely.

The water feels perfect this time of year. There’s hardly anyone at the beach, and you know that’s the way I like it.

Why is it that for some of us, it feels like therapy getting tossed around by waves, yet when we’re tossed around by humans in curiously mountain-shaped cities, it takes us weeks upon years to recover?

Why is it that some of us would rather travel alone than have to explain to others how we feel inside when real-life things happen and we go on living anyway? How we feel in the still, silent aftermath of the storm, when we thought you might, but then you didn’t, call? How the feelings continue to come and go like waves, yet some settle longer than others, a froth of messy bubbles over dirty sand.

Please don’t call me when you’re lonely. Please don’t use me as yet another distraction, a drug to numb the pain. You say you feel better when you’re with me, and I with you, and at the end of the day, we all need rejuvenation, but sometimes that word means different things to different people.

I deserve more. I deserve someone who feels as happy as I do in a solo dance among the waves, free of company barring a crew of seagulls, with one of whom I play an enchanting game of I see you, bird between wave and bag and back again. Food’s all gone, and you can’t have my words. Birds are smarter than they look, you know. They used to say that about me.

So you know that dream, the one you’ve been telling me about for years? Please fly away and go do it already. Because nobody else will ask you to, and the only person waiting is yourself.

And when you do it, I hope it shakes and stirs you like the balloon I rescued from the ocean today, on a journey of questionable length, time, and distance, but still holding air.

When you make it back to shore, I can’t tell you I’ll still be around, but I promise I’ll always listen.

Most of all, I hope the dream unmasks you. Down to the bone. Because I woke up one day and realized that we’re only friends when you’re homesick, and in the moment I didn’t think I’d make it, I was gasping for air while grasping hands with a ghost.

Thank you for unknowingly creating this moment, because in it you shone a light on the one thing I needed most to know — that I can write whatever the f*ck I want to. Even the curse words that make me cringe, in their raw staleness of sheer too-much-feeling.

We’re taught how to be happy on the exterior, but we aren’t taught what to do with our anger. We aren’t taught how to channel it into a wave-ridden dance or the safe space of words. We’re taught to suppress it deep in a lockbox hidden within our chest before we throw the key out to sea. For which I’ve been swimming for centuries, uncertain I’ll ever find it.

Regardless, my alien story has value, as do my hopes and my dreams. So, for you, I hope that you find what you’re looking for. And for me, I dream of something more. Because I deserve someone who does not merely tolerate my rawness, but loves it.

Someone who holds his palm outstretched with the hopes of carrying my dripping heart. Who understands anger without need for words. Who understands how the anger dissipates from the tops of the waves, and that the more time I spend alone with the ocean, the closer I get to perhaps recovering the key to the locked box inside my heart.

I deserve someone who wants to walk alongside my wave-shattered body, together in our mutually respective aloneness.

The space you gave me, all those years ago, when you didn’t call, wasn’t out of love or respect or even friendship; it was for yourself. I do believe love is created from space and deep breaths of air, but I’m discovering the difference between air I want to breathe and that which my lungs can do without.

It may have something to do with mountain-shaped cities, and beaches without humans and with only the underrated intelligence of birds.



This piece was published on Rebelle Society.