The Death of Nostalgia.
My ex-boyfriend used to tell me that I made him feel insecure.
He’d say that he always felt that I was “one foot out the door” and never fully committed to our life together. To him, I was a real-life, runway-bride-like girlfriend; He felt I could love him from the depths of my soul on a Monday morning, then have my bags packed and be out the door by Tuesday evening.
Speaking things into existence is a real thing perhaps, because when I left him and moved out of our shared NYC apartment, it took me approximately 1 week to get over him. We had spent two full years of our lives together, but in just one week, I had somehow managed to put him squarely in my life’s rearview mirror.
Except for his words regarding my being “never fully committed”. That part never quite evaporated.
And so I carried that diagnosis with me for years thereafter, convincing myself that there was something intrinsically broken within me; that I would at some point find myself along a yellow brick road on a wild quest to see the great Wizard of Oz, begging him to affix within my tin chest, a beating heart. Specifically, one that would deliver me the sort of post-breakup hurt that I’ve seen portrayed in too many movies; the kind that would render me laugh-less, thought-less, just altogether -less of all things good in the world.
Three years, and three sorta-maybe-not-really relationships later, and I still hadn’t shed a tear.
This is all stupid, trust me, I know; to sit here writing about how I wish I had hurt more. About how easy it has been for me to exit relationships. About how sad I am that I wasn’t sad at the conclusion of any of them, and about how I envy women that cannot get out of bed because their hearts have been splintered by former loves.
Yes this all very stupid, and yet somehow true.
I’ve asked myself over the years just what it is exactly about these modern relationships that never seem to fully condense within me. What is it that differentiates them from the ones of my childhood that would rush through every cavity of my soul like a tsunami of fire and ice? Why is it, that I am more compelled by the memories of my teenage first kiss upon a trampoline and the fleeting young love that transpired thereafter, than of the plenty samplings of mature love that my early adulthood has afforded me?
Last night, I was on Facetime with my modern love when he uttered something positively perfect. I had captured his words by way of hearing first, of course. And then, there was nothing else. Because I couldn’t supplement the words by way of taste or smell or hearing. The beautiful moment had been restricted to a 15-inch, Macbook Pro screen.
And with that, I understood.
We have, through the technological advances of this generation, abandoned our senses, and consequentially, nostalgia.
Walking into an Abercrombie & Fitch department store 13 years after your first kiss, and being brought back to that specific moment in time by the permeation of cheap cologne.
Losing your breath for a moment, 5 years after a break-up, because the Irish Spring deodorant your guy-friend is wearing, is the exact one that would linger behind your high school crush when he’d hug you in the hallway before class.
It’s hearing Alicia Keys belt out that “no one, no one, NO ONE”, would get in the way of what she was feeling, and being immediately transported back to the year 2007—to the ring tone that you had set for him that would send your heart straight into the galaxy and back, every single time it went off on that old nokia phone.
Before smartphones, and even smarter phones, and Instagram, and Twitter, and Snapchat, we were once upon a time tethered by nostalgia; the word itself, an irresistibly sweet melody, composed of the moments we were certain we had forgotten until they came rushing back all at once, mocking our delusions.
Now, we are developing bionic hearts, and poisoning such purity.
Today, love gambles upon a button. It is determined by our willingness or refusal to press “end call” or “delete all” ,thereby wiping away every trace of what has slowly become our bionic memory.
Because when I run a post-mortem on my modern love experiences, each bout of nostalgia is individually unexceptional from the one before it; it is the same vision of black and white unsent text messages. Its sound, the familiar Apple text alert. Upon touch it is smooth, and with each upgrade it becomes increasingly more sensitive as I swipe left, right, up, and down.
It is vapid.
It took me exactly one week to get over my ex-boyfriend because it took me exactly one week to muster the courage to press delete: on every post, tweet, tag, like, share, and photo.
And then there was nothing left at all, unfortunately.
I’ll be visiting my current love again soon, and have promised myself that this time I’ll take care to breathe deeply in: his damp hair after a shower, his faint breath while he sleeps, the awful brand of air-freshener that is in his car.
I’ll take the good with the bad, I’ll take anything, really.
Because I ache for nostalgia. I ache for the intangible storage facility that unloads at it’s own will when triggered by some innocuous scent or sound.
I ache for the everlasting ache.