My husband is nostalgic. He is someone who has lived an interesting life and though he, like everyone, has a few regrets he also has a great store of experience which inevitably bring a smile to his face and a laughter to his voice.
For years he pursued music as a profession. He played in some interesting bands, with interesting people, and made some fascinating music. At 19, he was performing experimental rock with an eclectic group of musicians in San Francisco, and later in his music career met such performers as Iggy Pop (great story, btw) and Joe Jackson. I met him, in fact, at a nightclub, where his band was performing.
A few weeks ago we attended his high school reunion, and though before we left the house he said we would only stay an hour or two to eat the food and drink the wine, we encountered so many old friends – some who grew up in the same neighborhood – and left well after dark. It was a great day, surrounded by the warmth of old friendships and rivalries, now laughed off as the pseudo-machismo of adolescent longing.
With new friends he enjoys collecting new memories. Last year we met a new couple with whom we connect (yes, you know who you are!), and when we return home from an outing, or as we clean dishes after entertaining, he always has something interesting to say, a kind observation, or a mental note to make to look up that new book/album/film discussed over coffee and dessert.
He rarely throws things away. He has his Cub Scout pin from childhood, beloved old baseball gloves, his first Guitar Player magazine (and probably every single one subsequently published), old LP’s, and books galore.
I am not that person. I am the person who throws things away. I am the person who prefers not to look to my past, and I have absolutely no interest in seeing my high school classmates. Instead, I err on the other side: I always look to the future.
In some ways, I envy his interesting past and his pleasure in memories. I have little capacity for such thought myself; the past is to be purged, displaced by something new and positive. This is my personality, and has been from childhood. As I wondered today why my memory has never been very good, I realized it is in part because I avoid looking back. I don’t have any huge skeletons in my closet, so on the surface this seems a little crazy. But I don’t often look back (or I do so very, very selectively) because I don’t like the person I was in the past and I want to focus on the person I want to be for the future.