I’m a very nostalgic person. I have this small box I keep in my room that I’ve stuffed with every little thing that could be considered a memento, varying greatly in actual importance – movie ticket stubs so faded I can barely read them, random receipts from fun nights, notes passed in middle school, even my first slide phone, the amazing Pantech Pursuit.
It’s no surprise to me when I find myself caught up in memories from weeks, months or even years ago; it’s a temporary but dreamy escape. What I don’t usually expect, though, and yet what still arises nonetheless, is the feeling of missing something I never thought I’d actually miss.
It could be as simple as a bike ride to a certain class every morning. I never paid much attention to it at the time, but now I rarely ever take that route to get anywhere, and a part of me misses the path of the daily commute. It could even be something that, at the time, I didn’t necessarily dislike but also something I never actively enjoyed, like maybe a certain class for which I was only going through the motions, but once it’s over, I find that I miss the lectures of the professor or listening to the discussions around me.
Don’t get me wrong: This certainly doesn’t apply to everything. There are definitely some things I’d honestly be fine with erasing from my memory altogether. I’m talking about everything that gets stuck in between the two ends of the spectrum, those moments that weren’t awfully bad but weren’t amazingly memorable either.
And what do I usually do while actually living through these seemingly lukewarm times? Nothing. I go through them mechanically. When I know something is going to make a great memory one day, I cherish every moment of it. I’m appreciative of the experience, of the people, of the environment in which it takes place, of the smallest details. Nothing goes unnoticed. On the other hand, if it doesn’t seem to be of any particular significance right then and there, my eyes and mind glaze over everything. I’m there, living “in the moment,” technically, but not really, as I don’t actually care about it while it’s going on.
More of these initially unnoticed, nostalgic longings have started popping into my mind recently. Somehow I miss the traffic that came with driving to school everyday back home, something that was annoying at times, but was also an opportunity to enjoy my morning playlist nonetheless. I miss the novelty of dining hall food, never mouth-wateringly amazing but less repetitive than it all seems now. I even miss the rain from a few weeks ago giving me an excuse to lay in bed all day unapologetically. All of this is giving me a new appreciation for the “mundane” moments in life, whether just falling short of either extreme or sitting perfectly in the middle. It seems there’s something good that can be found in every “average” moment if someone’s actually taking the time to pay attention to it.
As Andy Bernard from “The Office” once said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” Especially as college students, when we look back one day, most of us will probably find that all of our days were the “good old days.” It’s not just the Friday nights or Saturday afternoons, but all the other moments as well. We won’t be here forever. Hold everything dearly to your hearts while you still can.
Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.