Thoughtful Thursday: With an uncertain future, hold onto the past
"Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson; you find the present tense but the past perfect!" -Owens Lee Pomeroy
Another autumnal celebration lost to Covid this year is the annual rite of passage: Homecoming. Often built around football or other sporting events, friends and families gather to commemorate old school or team alliances with pep rallies, parades, tailgates and a dance. I remember fondly past homecomings, both my own high school and college years then again repeated in my children’s teams and high school celebrations.
From club team sports, through high school and college, Homecoming is an opportunity to reunite the past and the present. I remember cheering my seven year-old son and his teammates outfitted in full football gear marching around an athletic field prior to a Pop Warner football game. They were clueless about Homecoming but they loved the hoopla, carrying banners and promise of snacks! Past Homecomings prompt memories of hours spent building floats of chicken wire and tissue paper, with a limited supply of resources but endless imagination, transforming Daddy’s station wagon or flat-bed truck into life-size dioramas. Long before Indigenous Peoples Day, in an era of great political disregard, at my high school we built a float honoring Christopher Columbus’s claim of Hispaniola. With a nod to Columbus, I drafted my younger brother to dress in a tiger costume, our school mascot, and stake a claim for our football team’s dominance. If I remember correctly, we lost the game and I don’t think our float won a prize either. Thirty years later, Bubba Gump’s shrimp boat was reimagined in my garage and my daughter’s creativity was on display for this parade. Popularity-fueled contests crown a King and Queen who hold court over the weekend’s activities. Don’t forget about those huge football-sized mums once made into corsages and wristlets, decorating the sweaters and lapels of cheerleaders and members of the Homecoming Court. These reminiscences play against a backdrop of Bruce Springsteen’s ode, “Glory Days,” providing bragging rights backed up by yearbook photos well into the future.
It isn’t really about Homecoming, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas as much as it’s about the loss, or perceived loss, of familiar practices we consider our normal. With our lifestyles greatly changed by the pandemic and no reprieve on the immediate horizon, we wistfully daydream of our time before Covid. Nostalgia is the preferred pastime, filling our memory banks with reruns of events, activities and friends in which we long to participate. Nostalgia smooths the rough edges off of our memories, leaving us with sepia-toned images of our past. Our history, or recollections of our history, are faded and discolored like the 50+ years-old Polaroid pictures we watched develop in less than a minute. Nostalgia allows for great latitude in remembering the past as our memories may not reflect things as they actually were. A gallery houses a collection of memories, hidden in shapes, colors, form and light. Secreted in each work of art is a personal connection waiting to be uncovered. Nostalgia is an emotional experience that enables that connection, eliciting smiles, sharing of recollections, feelings of warmth and maybe even a touch of melancholy. To remember, reflect and grow nostalgic, please visit our gallery in Chestertown or shop virtually at www.lespoissonsgallery.com.