Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nostalgia #1

Hello Everyone!!

I know I missed my usual posting on Friday. I am less than two weeks away from my train trip across the country to visit my mom and I just couldn't fit in a post before the weekend with all the encroaching deadlines.

Instead, today I am going to put up the first post of a series I have been thinking about for some time, which will be called, simply, "Nostalgia".

It's been inspired by my childhood days and experiences, of course.

While I have already detailed a good bit  of the inspiration that came thru those years, all of which are part of my creative life now, there remains a lot that I do not often talk about.  Maybe because they are smaller events that seem less important or just negative things I would rather just leave behind but as I get older i realize that they all have played their part. All need to be honored for how they've shaped me. And some are just little pieces, glimpses and fragments of the whole that I never want to lose. . .

As you might expect, a trip home is fraught with memories, old patterns and sights and sounds. Being in the house/yard/woods/neighborhood where so much of who I am was formed is both a joy and also a melancholy time

So at random times, often between  Fridays,  I will post little bits and bobs of those days. I'll try to warn you when it is going to deal with the dark times, not that there were that many, This will, I suppose, be a selfish record of things I never want to forget and many that I have never before written down.

Nostalgia #1

My Winter Olympics

In the years between 10 and 16 I really only had two friends who I played with on a regular basis. I'll talk about them another time. One of them still lives down the street from my mother and seeing him each year is a chance to revisit some of those good times we shared from the past.

But much of my time then, even with two good friends, was spent alone.

In truth, it was preferred. There were so many ideas. games, stories in my head that I knew no-one else would understand or add anything to if I tried to include them.

One of those exploits was my love of the winter olympics. I could not get enough of the wonder of nations from all over the world coming together and competing in events that were so wonderfully strange to me. Luge, bobsled, biathlon, speed skating, etc We all knew about ice hockey and downhill skiing of course. I was 10 the year the olympics were held in Lake Placid, NY. The US hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" is, of course, the prevalent memory of those games for most of us in this country. But what the entire olympic spectacle inspired was a series of years, snow days permitting, where I recreated the Olympics in my back yard. I won't go into too much detail but it was one of those things that I just had to do alone.

What I remember most of about it to this day is that I took an entire day as the snow fell to make small, paper flags of all the countries for my "luge" event. I drew them with markers I think.  I had an old encyclopedia that had all the flags of the world (one of my favorite things to look at as a child!) and I meticulously tried to do them justice with my paper and markers. Then they got wrapped around craft sticks. I made medals out gold and silver foil.  I was ready.

The "luge" was just on an old red flyer wood sled. The "track" was hardly dangerous or Olympian by any standards. . . a gently sloping hill, maybe 60 or 70 yards in total length from the back porch of our home, down across a concrete lot and then a final dip down a hill past the neighbors house.

Instead of timing the sled runs for speed, I was trying to see how far I could get the sled to go.
The last ten yards or so the sled would slow to a crawl, the weight of my body the only thing pushing it forward until it came to a crunching stop in the snow.

The little flag representing the country I had just pretended to be representing would be stuck in the ground where the front of the sled ended up. Then I'd get up off the sled, haul it back up the gentle slope and do it all over again. Dozens upon dozens of times. With the exception of a rare misstep out of the "starting gate" most of the trips ended up in a very small area, within two feet of each other. Mere inches separating the best from the worst of the runs.

I can still recall, vividly, the feeling of the falling snow in my face as I went along and the internal "broadcast" of the announcers that I ad libbed in silence.

I made dozens of runs and, as the track iced over, it DID become little faster and more fun.

When it ended, I would go inside have a medal ceremony and return the next day for "ice" hockey or biathlon (FYI, plastic bb's are NOT going to be accurate in 20mph whipping, winter winds!) and some events, downhill skiing and speed skating, I had an old Atari Game system to play those out on when it got too dark outside.

The feeling I get when I think of those days is both precious and bittersweet.

I played so many games like that and I'll talk about them more in future Nostalgia posts. I just preferred those solo hours.

I still do in many ways.

When I created the "My Antarctica" photo series a few years back, those memories of cherished events and a few stark turning points from childhood were the impetus for a number of the images.

Most of those, I have never shown, including this one below which was inspired by those childhood Winter Olympics. . .

And while there were many bad moments as well, I never hesitate to say that, given the offer, I would not hesitate to forfeit up a year of my life to go back and live one day in that time (minus the negatives of school, family arguments etc) :)

When I go home, I try. A little at least. So much of it has changed, especially the outdoor landscape. But I still find that if I am very quiet and open. . . it comes back to me.

Thank you for reading!



  1. A wonderful little story! Your words in memoir or in fantasy novel form never fail to bring a smile to my face, and I am sure that is true for many others who read them. I think it is not only because you bring us right along with you in sliding down that small hill and planting your homemade flags, but also because at the same time, we get to revisit our own Memories... I remember sledding down a hill with my parents and my aunts and uncles through a pine grove on toboggans, whizzing past the pine trees just inches away. I remember it as being terrifying, and I am amazed now that my parents who were normally full of safety concerns would make a path through the woods, instead of on an open hill. I can drive by that spot now and still wonder at their choice. Thanks for your post.

    1. Andrea thank you for sharing that memory with me too! Do you think they did so because they probably had similar experiences as a child with their parents? I just find that most of what my mother allowed me to do was what was "normal" for her as a child/teen and the unfamiliar is what scared her.

      It's funny how much has changed in the world of parenting. I would say my mother would have qualified as "overprotective" in those days but when I think of what I was allowed to do, I have to, in retrospect, reluctantly admit that she was not. lol

      It is usually part of my trip to always drive by some of the places I used to frequent, play, hang out at and think back fondly on those memories. As much as I am a "leave it all behind" sort of person I DO wish I could conjure up some of those items from the past. That sled or a handful of those flags for example. . . the large teddy bear I wrestled with as a 7 and 8 year old til it's seams split. . . the board games I made up, or the action figures I had. . .

      Ooooh I sense a short story where lurking that power to conjure relics of our past is available to us. . . with a price. :)

  2. Beautiful post Nicolas! Loved reading about your winter olympics!! Family and arguments!! I understand! LOL! (I wouldn't change a thing either, except that, and some other things!) You grew to be an amazing person, who followed your soul! You should be very proud Nicolas!! Big Crow Hugs!

    1. Stacy, I am so happy you enjoyed it. I admit I spend way more time in those memories than most I think but writing about them, I don't know, it seems make them ever stronger. What's funny is how going home both stirs them and also disrupts them because things there have changed so much. If it WERE the same as I remember, I might be tempted to return but it's not so I keep them all alive thru my art and my memories instead. :) Thank you for dropping by! BIG Crow Hugs!!!