As I begin to add more content to newsletters, it'll be archived and available here on the blog, separately from the podcast/tarot-specific content. We love a good system.
My mother sent me a video of her Halloween decorations, and I almost left the text unopened.
Was it going to hurt so much, I wondered, to see the purple and orange glow that was an annual highlight of my childhood? Would I wish I had bothered to carve a pumpkin? String up lights on a temporary home away from my temporary home away from my temporary home? Would it send me into an existential spiral around livelihood and future and house ownership and parenthood?
This is the grip that nostalgia has had on me.
I have for most of my life identified as a nostalgic person. I’m a sucker for tradition and a sense of lineage, for hazily glorified memories of the past, for that sweet sweet goosebumpy rush of satisfaction at anniversaries and Facebook memories. It’s a sensation I imagine we all feel a little bit differently, and I’m sure has kept many poets awake at night trying to pin down. I’m not a poet, and this is just a newsletter, so let’s move on.
In the last year or two, as time got upended and adulthood kicked in with a vengeance, maybe thanks to my Saturn Return, nostalgia became far more painful than pleasurable, and that is when I started to reconsider. What was once a promise of consistency, perpetuity, and comfort now threatened self-doubt, fomo, and dread.
What did I stand to lose, I asked, if I pried nostalgia’s now-bony fingers from my shoulders?
Would I lose my love of holiday tradition?
Would my favorite period films lose their charm on rewatch?
Would my sense of identity flounder without the context of linear time?
But not so far. Not yet.
This summer, I very intentionally lived as many moments as I could without worrying about their role in what would eventually become my past. I asked on Instagram recently if nostalgia tugs on your sense of the past, present, or future. My association is always with the past, and the majority of respondents agreed. But this codependent, skeletal version of nostalgia — whether it had hitherto been shrouded in cotton lawn and gauze, or had simply aged poorly — tugs on my sense of future. It strikes fear in my heart rather than coziness in my bones.
I opened my mother’s text. I watched the blinking lights gently shift between purple and orange, walking that perfect line of garish charm. My inner child gasped. But not from a skeletal hand’s punch to the gut; from a soft opening of gratitude, wonder, and a little bit of hope. A different kind of goosebumps. A different rush.
Nostalgia kept me living in an enhanced past and an imagined future, first as a means of comfort and then as a means of control. This year, I take back both.
from New Moon Newsletter No. 9