Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reflections on Nostalgia and Progress: A December Special

I was perusing Facebook this morning in between editing articles, and I saw a "Throwback Thursday" that my old alma mater, Coastal Carolina University, posted: a photo of the oldest building on campus -- the Singleton Building, as it stood in the 1960s. I saw the Singleton building myself just about a month ago during a fairly routine visit to campus, and I was shocked to find the building had been totally gutted. The shiny, completely renovated Singleton building will reopen in 2016. It made me a little sad. Thus, I posted this on the Throwback Thursday photograph:

This is a cool photo. I was sad to see it completely gutted when I visited Coastal a month or so ago. Yes, the Singleton building smelled weird and needed to be updated, but I clearly remember walking through it between 1998-2002 and loving it just as it was. Progress and nostalgia are always at odds, I suppose.

Today is my mom's birthday (Happy birthday, mom!), and if you don't know my mom, she's one of the finest examples of poetic nostalgia I've ever known. Part of it comes from her outstanding memory, and part of it is her sincere fascination with how things became the way they are. I spent my childhood relishing tales of her childhood, from the people to the buildings around Florence. Even if they had long since disappeared, my mom could still point out where they were.

That said, I suppose it's fitting that today I would find myself reflecting on progress and nostalgia. After all, this is the time of year when people get caught in between longing for the past and anticipating the future. I know I'm one of them -- I find myself feeling excited about what might happen in 2016 (New freelancing opportunities! Road trips!) but also missing people I haven't seen in decades -- wanting to trade stories and hold on as much as possible.

I doubt very many people, if any at all, would agree with me that the Singleton Building was fine the way it was. People complained about how dingy it was, how funny it smelled, how dark the hallways were, and everything else. But to me, it was just another part of the campus, and the campus has felt like home since my college days. Luckily, it still does, despite the renovations. I think that's the secret, when it comes to balancing progress and nostalgia: making sure you still feel at home, despite change.

When I go home next week for the holidays, things in Florence will be different, as they usually are, and people will be shifting. They'll be getting married, having children, growing older, selling their old sofas, downsizing their homes, retiring, shopping for new cars and whatever else they do to keep up the progress in their lives and move forward. But I'll still feel at home there thanks to nostalgia, which my mom passed down to me.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, y'all!

Me, my mom and my sister Marie, circa 2008 or so.