Ahh nostalgia—when life tasted better and hurt less

Amy Fenster Brown

Amy Fenster Brown

It’s likely not at the top of your mind, but I didn’t have a column in this paper for the past couple of issues. Did you miss me? Is it true that absence makes the heart grow fonder?  I love to say that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, but my husband doesn’t find it funny. 

I was sort of at a loss for words, which is especially alarming if you know me at all. I missed having something to say. Of course, that made me think about other things I miss. And people I miss.  

Obviously, I miss my dad, my grandma, my husband’s grandma, one of my lifelong besties and others who are no longer with us. Good memories are fun and leave us feeling comfort and nostalgia, and some longing for those times. You always hear people say they enjoyed the days when things were simpler, especially childhood. Maybe it’s because we had less stress and fewer responsibilities. 

Or does nostalgia play a lovely trick on us, giving us selective memory and blocking out those negative feelings?

ADVERTISEMENT
New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

What is it about the pull of nostalgia, taking you back to fun times and great memories? There are so many things to choose from — the quirky, the funny, the delicious, the entertaining. 

During their heyday, we probably didn’t appreciate some of those nostalgic things we want back now. 

Take, for random example, Yogos. I thought Yogos snacks would be around forever.  They were like yogurt covered raisins except the inside was way tastier than a boring raisin, which in my opinion only belongs in oatmeal you get at breakfast in the lobby of value hotels that include the morning meal in your room rate. I’m not angry at raisins. It’s just that the inner part of Yogos were not raisins. They were some sort of fake, chewy, fruity substance that apparently were so unhealthy and horrible, Yogos were removed from our lives forever, leaving us longing for the glory days of their alleged dangerous deliciousness. Those controversial little orbs of goodness were a fun treat. Scientists can put a man on the moon but they can’t come up with a yogurty fruity snacko we can eat without potentially knocking on death’s door.

Natalie, Tootie, Blair and Jo, along with Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy, rile up my nostalgic emotions. Where are fun sitcoms with seemingly huge problems that get solved in 22 minutes (30 with commercials, including ads for Yogos)? Reality TV, bingeable series and game shows are all fantastic, but I miss the classic sitcom, don’t you? Reboots can suck it. I want the original, cringeworthy, cheesy goodness, laugh track and all. 

I miss the days of running around outside, playing until I was worn out and sweaty. Now, taking a walk in nice weather is a win, but it’s really just because we want to get our steps in for the day. My knees didn’t hurt when I goofed around with my friends, climbing on jungle gyms unconcerned about how I would get down, or jumping on trampolines without the lower body sensation that Depends are in my not-too-distant future. We rode our bikes and roller-skated fast and furious, without helmets or pads. These days, you don’t do those things without a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, sometimes even a maxi pad. 

Aaaand … I’m officially old. The fact that I could go on and on with sentences that begin with “back in my day” proves it. 

So does the fact that what I really miss most of all, probably more than anything, is my favorite childhood memory: not having back pain.

Columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.