I have always leaned more towards bittersweet melancholy rather than saccharine-laced nostalgia. I would say it is a middle aged thing, but I pretty much have always felt this way. Maybe it is because my soul, if not an old one, is a middle aged one and has learned to recognize irony over many lifetimes.
It's not that I am feeling particularly melancholy. I was just looking at one of the stat counting programs that loosely identifies who is looking at what on my blog. For the most part people drift in using Blogger's "Next Blog" function. I pay little attention to them. They are tourists looking for giant balls of twine along the Information Highway.
The second highest traffic comes from people doing Google searches. I pay almost no attention to them either because the generally are looking for porn or help eliminating vermin from their crawl spaces. Or for some inexplicable reason they want to know why clams are supposed to be so happy. My blog post posing the burning question, "Are clams really happy?" remains my number one visited page. I hope these people find closure after reading my essay on the subject.
The most interesting visitor's to my site are the ones who seem to navigate deliberately to my blog. I imagine they may have once been visitors from category number one or two, but were curious enough to come back. Regardless I clicked on one link to the archives of my May 2006 blog posts. I was quite prolific in 2006. I began reading some of my old posts. One of the curses and blessings of being middle aged is being able to read something you wrote five years ago and basically have little or no recollection of writing it. It is really quite refreshing.
At the risk of sounding conceited, I was quite moved by some of the things I'd written. This is where the melancholy comes in. In a post written ironically about Blogger's "Next Blog" function I wrote:
My forays into Blogger's "Next Blog" feature this last week has made me wonder. What are we looking for? Do we expect to stumble onto some blog out there with the answers? Would whatever power that motivates life's direction use blogger.com as the forum for unlocking the key to existence? Is this all some fantastic DaVinci code where the pieces to the ultimate puzzle are hidden in the detris of mindless blogs about paint ball strategy or minutia about American Idol winners?
I don't think so. If there is an answer in the blog world, I think it may be a collective one. Perhaps it is just that we are all trying to look inside by turning ourselves inside out in a blog post. It's as if the computer has become our confessional and we sit waiting for affirmation that we are not alone in our sins of being human. We want to know that it is okay to not always know where we are going or if it is the right direction.
I think it is human nature to always look for a sign that we are not alone.
Now that may be a load of crap, but it is pretty profound if I say so myself (and I do and did). But it was really this post that pushed my melancholy button. It was a post about a planned trip back to my birthplace, Boise:
I find it odd after living in Seattle for about 24 years to return to my birthplace. I realize Boise has changed a great deal in those 24-years, but I can't help but sense the time warp aspect of the place in my memory. I won't be staying at the house I grew up in although my mom has plenty of room. I refuse to sleep in the basement in my old room with the leopard-patterned paneling listening to the water pump run every 15 minutes. And after living with 250 premium channels on a HD bigscreen television, I can't bring myself to watch local Boise channels on a 19-inch television in my mom's family room while she sleeps in an easy chair. I also can't bring myself to shower in a bathroom the size of a telephone booth (I can't believe it was once shared by 5 people in one house). But the real reason I won't stay at my mother's house is that there really is no more room there because it is already too full of memories.
You can never really go back. But you can hover above it all, observing where you were. I'll wander from room to room staring at timelines of family photos on the walls, listening to my mom lecturing her dog about chasing the neighborhood squirrels. I'll drive around the town on autopilot remembering the pizza parlour that is now a tattoo parlour. And I'll drive by my grade school remembering those walks home, stopping to catch waterskippers in a drainage ditch in a distant time before kid's pictures ended up on the side's of milk cartoons. I may walk around the downtown or the mall, looking into faces, wondering if I'll see anyone I recognize. But they will all be new faces.
Then I'll return to my generic hotel room that could be anyplace in the country and wonder why I am a stranger in a place where I first drew a breath. And I'll try not to think about the time when my mother rejoins my father and the family home is merely a photograph replaced by multiplexes and townhouses.
And I'll realize that it is all inevitable and it wouldn't have mattered if I'd been crowned King instead of ending up a middle-aged bureaucrat commuting by train rather than a royal carriage. Because even kings have no control over time.
That's where the melon collie came dashing out of the past nipping at little Timmy's heels. The irony in all of this, is that thoughts like these are part of the legacy of me I want my children to read some day in hopes they'll understand papa a little better once I'm either gone or lost somewhere in senility. And they are buried in the May 2006 archive of a blog best know for explaining why clams aren't really so happy.
Yes, Alanis, it is ironic, don't you think?