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Don’t Look Back

Old man looking wistfully into the distance.

Don’t Look Back

I made a mistake last night.

For a reason I can’t remember, a name popped into my head. Maybe I’d seen it while reading. Maybe it was mentioned on the TV show I was watching.

Whatever made it rise up in my brain like a Whack-A-Mole, there it stood.

Didn’t I once have a teacher with that name? Didn’t she teach at the first primary school I attended? Hmm.

Google Is (Almost) No Friend

Google, for the most part, was not my friend. Result after result was far removed from what I was looking for.

But one of the results – just one – was a PDF image of a page from my hometown newspaper. The page listed the homeroom assignments for the grammar schools in my town for the year 1973.

In 1973, I was 10 years old and had transferred out of the first primary school I attended and into the different one. I found my name on the list of 4th-grade homerooms in that second school. But in 1973, the teacher I was after taught at the first school. She had to still be there, right?

Right! Because there she was: 2nd grade.

Casting Memory

I don’t remember much of my childhood. I don’t remember the 2nd grade. We must have learned a lot of good stuff that year because I was promoted to 3rd grade, but I don’t remember learning it. The teacher was pretty. I remember that. 

Finding my name in that image of an old newspaper page started me off on my mistake.

I started going down the road to my past. I started doing searches on my hometown newspapers to see if there were any more of those old newspaper images. I started running into last names I recognized, children and grandchildren of the people I used to know back in the day.

Stop That Stuff

I had to slam the brakes on the Nostalgia Train. Nine-thousand miles and thirty-five years separate me from that place. Each step away has been thought out and accepted. The small hours of the night have a way of distorting your views and memories. If I’m not careful, I can find myself pining for the past. Reminiscing is OK for a while but I had to stop myself from getting weepy.

I don’t know how it is for you but for me, I can’t take a lot of reminiscing. I start wanting to revisit my past, maybe even travel back “home”.

I’ve done that before, only to be disappointed at what I found. What’s the saying? “You can’t go home again”? Thinking you can go home again is dangerous for expats. Especially those of us who are really far from our original homes.

We need, at least I need, to focus on the future. What’s coming is much more important than what’s already behind. A little looking back can be good for us all. It shows us how far we’ve come and can show us where we need to go and what we need to do.

My advice is, don’t look back. Just glance.

2 Responses to Don’t Look Back

  1. queeiniebee October 20, 2017 at 3:20 PM #

    I don’t know JD–my childhood had many highs and lows, but I still have many memories that I don’t mind revisiting from time to time. I’m big into collecting vintage too, and even wear vintage clothes, so the sixties and seventies were groovy times worth remembering for me.

    Lately I’ve even been looking and laughing at old youtube clips of Grouch Marx’s show “You Bet Your Life” from the fifties and sixties. It seems that people were more down to earth then, and life was simpler and sweeter.

    I know that looking too much at one’s own personal past can distract from the efforts and hinder the learning curve of an expat trying to fit in and make the most of the new life and chapter that is living here. Relatives and folks from my “old life” can’t really relate to me now either, and I feel the same. No–you can’t “go home again” is true, but I’m okay with that.:) Only visiting in my mind can be sometimes sweet for me. It’s been a long journey that brought me here today, and all those experiences helped me to get where I am now in some way or other.

  2. JD October 21, 2017 at 11:52 AM #

    I agree, Queenie. My problem is a tendency to get lost back there when I go.

    I did the whole bit on Facebook where I looked up all my old friends and joined the groups representing my hometown and home state. I wound up frustrated and disappointed that so many of my old buddies seemed to not have grown an inch emotionally since grammar school.

    I guess I meant to say that glancing back is fine. Staring, not so much. 🙂