Holden Caulfield, via J.D. Salinger once said,
Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.
This has always stuck with me.
You know how certain songs cause you to time travel? You hear a song and your mind takes you back to where you were where you heard it and what you felt and who was there. When I hear “Thirteen” by Big Star I remember this incredible date this sweet guy took me on in New York. I didn’t have a lot of time and I warned him, trying to convince him that we couldn’t go out because even though I wanted to, I knew it wouldn’t work out. I was just too busy. But he was persistent, and not in a creepy way. In a way that was so sincere that I let my smile take up my entire face. I told him I had, “like, two minutes” — and he took it to heart. He hailed a cab and we went to an Italian restaurant…down the street. We went through three courses in about one minute. Literally. He planned this ahead. We took our leftovers over to a movie…on the sidewalk. He set up a TV to play Manos: Hands Of Fate, the best of the worst films ever made. It’s such a bad film that he was able to condense the entire thing into twenty seconds. Then he asked if we had time for coffee. Well, we had about thirty seconds. We went back to the Italian place that suddenly had coffee and desert set up on the table. It was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me. And somewhere, “Thirteen” by Big Star was playing. And I will forever tie that song to that incredible memory. It didn’t work out between us. I eventually went back to my ex.
Also, none of this happened to me, this happened on How I Met Your Mother.
Ha ha. Got you.
Sorry. I don’t know why I did that.
I got terribly astray from what I was saying, which was that if you let it, anything can remind you of everything. As humans we try to find connections in our lives, where there are none. For example, you’ll tell your friend over lunch about someone you went to high school with, and hours later, you’ll run into that very person on the street. And you’ll say, “My God, what are the odds?!” But if you really thought about it, you’d realize that the odds weren’t that extreme; maybe you were in an area where your former classmate lived, or you only noticed your classmate walking down the street because you had just mentioned them, or your classmate mentioned on Facebook a place they went to for lunch and that’s why you went there; you simply disassociated your classmate from the entire experience because it’s more meaningful to believe that it all happened by some delightful wink of the universe.
Okay, look, I’ll finally get what I’ve been trying to get to. And that is, it’s nearly impossible to forget anybody or anything you’ve ever done that ever meant something, even if it was only slightly. I’ll see a girl wearing fingerless gloves and I’ll think of 14th street in NYC. I’ll hear a Bob Dylan song and have a sudden and brief fervent passion for a boy I had a crush on in college. I’ll smell a certain shampoo and remember my staying with my ex-boyfriend at his house in Rochester. And I do these things — we all do these things — because we want to. Even though it hurts. Because unless you’re a psychopath, you can’t but feel emotion, even if it’s people you think you don’t give a monkey about. It creeps in, but you don’t notice it. To you, it’s like, “Why the hell am I missing Stephanie from elementary school? I haven’t thought about her in years.” It rains and I think about my apartment in New York City. And I think about what a hassel it was — but a great hassel — to move in. I thought about how it would be a ragtag group of me and my friends dragging a couch up a staircase like in Friends. Asking them, hey, can you move for free? I’ll treat you guys to coffee. And then I’m nostalgic for a moment that never even happened.
And that’s why I understand Holden Caulfield, that beloved outcast, so beloved by our generation it’s become cliche. Because nostalgia will fucking kill you if you let it. It’s like alcohol or drugs. Some people can enjoy nostalgia recreationally. Others let it ruin them. The worst thing is that sometimes you don’t even need to talk to someone from your past. All you have to do is see their photo or time travel via a song or memory and you’re right there and by the time you come back, you’re completely hungover with nostalgia.
God, imagine how i’m going to feel when I’m forty.