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  • Susan Welsh

"Nostalgia. It's delicate, but potent."


Watch this video from Mad Men capture the essence of nostalgia. . .

In one of the greatest monologues, in one of the most brilliant series ever written, Mad Man Don Draper delivers the pitch for Kodak's product:

"Nostalgia literally means 'the pain from an old would. It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards. Forwards. Takes us to a place where we ache to go again.It's not called the wheel. It's called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Round and around back home again. . .to a place where we know we are loved."

In the 1960's my parents purchased one of these "time machines". We would go up to the attic and bring down the boxes of carousel trays filled with images of all of us looking younger, happier, more animated and somehow more color saturated than we ever looked in still photos. There was something about the light of the projector filtering through the magic of Kodachrome slides, and the large format images of us up on the blank white wall that enhanced our expressions, captured something vibrant about the moment, froze an image of life into an ethereal shimmer.

All at once that moment in time seemed relevant again, reminded us of the minutes and hours and days that brought us to the present, who we were and what we had become. . .

Our slide trays are filled with images of travel--my parents in Spain and France, family vacations at the Jersey Shore, and the rare collection of images of my now deceased brothers Matthew and David. Pain. Joy. Every emotion in between.

Pain--remembering the quality of life for Matthew and David, difficult from the beginning because they were born with profound physical and cognitive disabilities. Pain--they died respectively at the age of 15. Pain of July. One died on July 3, the other July 5. Any sense of patriotism and picnicking is always tied up with those memories--despite how many years have passed. A trepidation each time July 4 falls on the calendar. A sigh of relief each time it passes. . .


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