When I’m having a particularly difficult time, I like to think back to little moments in the past. Moments when I was comfortable, present, and just at peace. I think for most people, the moments they wish they could relive usually involve some sort of great success or thrilling feat, but for me it’s much simpler.
1. Listening to Music
I saw Con Air in 1997 and immediately fell in love with it. The movie checked all the boxes a thirteen-year-old boy could want including a great score and soundtrack. The hit single from the soundtrack was Trisha Yearwood’s How Do I Live, and while it was not something I’d typically listen to, I did enjoy it. (Here is a fascinating article about the two versions of the song that’s well worth reading.)
Shortly after seeing the movie, my grandmother took me to K-Mart, where I picked up a cassette of Trisha Yearwood’s Songbook. The album consisted of a Greatest Hits (as well as How Do I Live), which worked out well since I was familiar with many of her songs.
I recall lying on my grandmother’s couch with my earphones on just listening to the music. It was the summer and my grandmother loved watching mystery shows like Law and Order, Matlock, and Murder She Wrote, none of which interested me. So, I just laid back, closed my eyes, and relaxed.
It was wonderful. I didn’t have a care in the world, just me, the soft vocals of Trisha Yearwood, and the fresh memories of what a great movie Con Air was.
2. MTV During the Summer I spent one summer in the late 90’s at my grandmother’s house in the mountains. The first few weeks were always exciting as I found myself outside exploring the countryside, but slowly the heat took over and I’d just want to stay indoors until it cooled off in the evening.
There wasn’t much to do at Nanny’s, but she did have cable, so I found myself in command of the TV for most of the day. I had to turn over the remote for the news and Days of Our Lives, but the rest of the day I could watch whatever I want. As most kids find out, daytime TV during the summer is far from exciting, except for on MTV where their various beach themed hosting consisted of all sorts of stupid hijinks, drunk twenty-year-olds, and bikinis.
I found myself curled up on Nanny’s couch watching TV for hours on end. It was quite unlike me because I didn’t usually just zone out and watch MTV. And while nothing of real note ever occurred during this week or two of bingeing MTV, it made an imprint of me. There was something peaceful about watching all these people have fun at a beautiful beach while I was cooped up in a cinderblock home. I wasn’t envious, no in fact, I would have been miserable in that setting in real life but being able to channel it through the TV when I was bored was magical.
3. Video Store I feel like most of my childhood was spent in a video store. I have so many memories of so many different video stores, but there is one specific one that stands out over the rest.
This memory takes place at Phar Mor, a defunct drug store that we visited while living in Orlando. The drug store had a tiny video section in one corner and when I say tiny, I mean TINY. It was clearly an afterthought once the store was created, and the wire racks cheaply held up on the various VHS boxes in what couldn’t have been much bigger than a large master closet.
We’d frequent this store often because the rentals were the cheapest. They didn’t have very many new releases, but I always managed to find four or five movies to watch. This specific memory that stands out the most is because my dad dropped me off to look for movies while he ran some errands. For two hours, I walked around this super tiny video spot and soaked up every box’s cover art. There was something magical about having the time to just look. I could see the artwork and how much time went into marketing the movies in specific ways. Maybe it had a creature on the front or a half-naked woman. I knew from experiencing that renting by the cover art was a bad idea, but it didn’t stop me from doing it.
I would say it was like I was in a library doing research, but it was more like church. I stood in awe of all of this entertainment, and it felt like a couple hundred keys to other worlds. No matter what movie I picked, for ninety minutes I would be transported to another world. A world that wasn’t connected. There was no IMDB or streaming, it was just an experience between me and this single tape. Having that sort of power and the time to make a thorough decision was magical.
My nostalgic moments may look lame in comparison to epic trips to Disney World or standing before The Grand Canyon, but it was these insignificant moments that made an impact on me.
Sometimes, I daydream a little about what heaven might be like, and I would like to think that it would be an experience. An experience where the rest of time would feel like these warm nostalgic moments. Just serenity.