As someone with only 23-and-a-half years of experience in this world, I’m shocked at how often I feel like I have lived different lives during that short timespan. I spent the earliest years of my childhood in New York City, the second half of my childhood in Newnan, Georgia, and now most of my adulthood in Orlando – and all of those cities presented me with uniquely different, if not contrasting, experiences. It’s also why when people ask me where I’m from, I have to sigh and say, “Now, what do you mean by that?” because one form of that question could bring out a different answer than another. Ah, the brain of an editor, nothing if not precise.
In March, I visited my birthplace, New York City, and every time I go, I’m reminded of the life I had there as a kid. With a large majority of my family still there, visiting feels like going back to my inner child, back to the point of my life where it was all so simple. It’s a feeling I like to hold onto and enjoy to the fullest, and feeling it in all its glory brings back forgotten memories and experiences, even bringing back parts of myself that I had to leave there in order to prosper elsewhere. But as soon as the vacation is over and I’ve touched back down in the O, the feeling’s lost, and all returns to normal … usually. But after this past visit, I was left thinking, “How do I help myself remember more? How can I travel back in time and relive that again?” If only, right?
Wrong. Now, I’m not here to say I solved time travel, but I found a few ways to “take me back” to those previous lives I’ve led when just reminiscing isn’t enough:
- Thinking back to my favorite things during a certain period in my life and experiencing them again as if it were the first time. This works extremely well with music and movies. As a kid, I was a disgustingly dedicated Demi Lovato fan. The quickest way for me to relive my tween angst is to put on their album Don’t Forget and let the world melt away in front of me as I sing my heart out. And after my quinceañera, I still can’t hear the song “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony without immediately getting transported back to the night I turned 15, when I surprised all of my Dominican family who thought of me as a “gringa” by dancing salsa.
- Looking back at old photo albums. They don’t even have to be physical. The other day, I went back to the oldest photos in my iPhone and scrolled through so many high school moments that I had once despised but have now grown to appreciate. My parents also kept photo albums of their days leading up to getting married and then having me, and we’ve looked through them from time to time. It’s really irreplaceable to see those memories all in one place.
- Actually traveling. Going back to those places I have once lived and taking the time to re-explore a place that used to be home. Revisiting my childhood home, my old schools, my favorite parks. My family does this often whenever we go back to the cities we’ve lived in. There’s always time for a quick detour.
Until we mere humans are gifted the power of time travel, I have to say these work pretty well for me. But man, nostalgia is one hell of a thing.