Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nostalgia: A Chicken Salad Sandwich That Was Better Before You Ate It

By: Kelly McClure

Being nostalgic was something I always thought of as embarrassing, or reserved for people in oatmeal commercials. When I went to high school between the years of 1992 and 1995 in Southern California, I had a best friend who I learned everything from - how to drink, how to crawl out of bedroom windows, how to smoke drugs, and how to look at people who look back on their high school years, or any years, with fondness as being losers. I got it in my head somehow that talking too long about things from the past meant that you were stuck there, and that your current life was just a holding pattern. A large glass tank filled with warm goo where you sat and replayed the same movie in your head while you waited to die. Part of me still believes this, just like part of me still believes that buying band t-shirts anywhere other than at a show is cheating, but then the other part of me has been experiencing full body goosebumps listening to Janet Jackson songs, so I guess it's beyond my physical control.

Sometimes I'll be sitting in this one chair in my apartment that is my special reading chair and I'll look out the window and the light will be a certain way that reminds me of how the light looked outside of my teenage bedroom window. It goes beyond the light "looking" that way, it will "be" that way. My oldish eyes will zone out and deaden, looking out this window, and the inside of my flesh prison, all the parts that matter, will be in a different time. It's sad and creepy and amazing, like being able to hear ghosts by holding a seashell to your ear, or re-watching moments of your life by sticking your head in a hollowed log. My favorite lesson learned while growing into whatever manner of adult I currently am is that almost nothing in life matters like how we think it does. Depending on what mood I'm in this scale of knowledge can tip to "nothing matters, everything is hollow and pointless, and we'll all gonna die anyway so who cares," or, as it has been doing lately, over to "a person's life has certain events that only happen once, like high school, getting a first car, moving away from parents. Having parents. My life had those events. And now they're done."

Chewing the idea of parts of my life being over, like items ticked off some list, has caused me to develop a few funny habits. I wait days, sometimes weeks to open packages that I get in the mail because having whatever's in the package is not as good somehow as having the package itself to open. It takes me longer to finish meals because having eaten an amazing chicken salad sandwich is not as good as having a chicken salad sandwich on a plate in front of you. I find myself wanting everything to slow down. As nonchalantly as I'm able, I'm pressing my heels into shit. Pulling back the reigns in as "whatever, who cares" way as I can muster on my life. The ONLY one I'll have. As far as I know.

When I lived at home, with my parents, there was a small, dusty, white AM/FM radio that my Mom kept in the bathroom. She hung her necklaces and baubles on the antennae, and the dial was always tuned to a local oldies station. I referred to the music that this station played as "serial killer music" and made a big production of shutting my bedroom door when it was on, and changing the dial to MY music (KROQ, natch) when I was in there taking a shower, or getting ready to go skin goats or whatever the hell I had planned that day. Flash forward many years later, because life loves nothing more than to kick your ass so hard your molars vibrate, I spend all my money collecting this "serial killer music." It's all I want to listen to. It's not quite as good as being able to put my ear to a shell and hear a ghost, but it's as damn close as I can get.

Bonus nostalgia: A few weeks ago I cried when I saw a picture of a Boglin on a friend's Instagram. I wanted one so bad when I was little and my Mom wouldn't buy me one. I pumped up the dramatic in Toys R Us once by carrying one around crying and singing made up love songs to the box, but it didn't work. I never had a Boglin.

Fucking oatmeal, you know? Fucking Goddamn oatmeal.

@ WolfieVibes