Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rainy-Day Nostalgia

Have you ever had the occasion to look upon two lovelier little gals?

(Say no.)

That's me on the left. That's my cousin Vickie on the right. She posted this "brand new" picture on her blog a couple of days ago, and it filled me up with 36 varieties of nostalgia. Look at my little red zip-up jacket! It probably made that zzzt zzzt sound when my arms brushed up against my sides.

I grew up with Vickie as one of my best friends. She lived a whole work-day's worth of driving away, but I spent the best month of every summer with her in Pennsylvania, starting at the age of 4. All it takes now is the smell of chlorine mixed with suntan oil mixed with fried pierogie (an infrequent occurrence, to be sure) and I'm right back there again. I'm stretched out on a soggy towel, listening to Elton John sing about cap feathers, wishing I could just be brave enough to open my eyes underwater.

...we're memorizing the back-to-school issue of Seventeen, thick as the Penney's catalog. We're licking ice cream cones. We're dancing in the basement.

Now, well, we're old ladies. (That's surely what we would have thought back then.) Now we have real lives, problems that weigh on us for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. We have people who depend on us. We have God-delivered epiphanies. We have a choice, every day, and most days, we choose joy.

Last night, I watched The September Issue with my girl Sarah. I was instantly swept into the hullabaloo of Anna Wintour and her deliciously enigmatic ego. I lamented, all over again, the celebrity overtaking of fashion mag covers, only to find out that she started it!

That supermodel-obsessed era of my life? It's over, too. I never did make it to fashion week. I never made it anywhere, except for in my daydreams. Oh, and Toledo. I made it there.

In one scene, a colleague describes Ms. Wintour's inability or refusal to look back. She is only forward-thinking, having no time or desire for nostalgia.

I wonder if that's really true. I hope it's not. I hope it's all part of the brittle persona that put her on the map. I hope the brittle is at least partly fabricated. I hope that she secretly allows herself to feel the luscious ache for a simpler time. I hope she remembers exactly what her Summers used to smell like.

I can't imagine me without a broad, fresh stroke of nostalgia. It's a covert time-machine, built for one. It takes me there and then zooms me right back here, to the place built mortar-and-brick with all of those yesterdays.