a lost zillennial

The Ocean at the End of the Lane and reflections on living in your hometown

This isn't a book review, and it's been a few weeks since I've finished this book, but bear with me for a sec.

Our nameless protagonist ventures back to his hometown for one reason or another for the first time since he was a child, and he reflects on some events that may or may not have happened. Nostalgia ensues.

While reading, I thought about what my nostalgia looks like. I'm on the upper rungs of what I'm sure I will consider childhood later in life, but I do live in the same place I grew up. Moving back here was a conscious decision — being near family was something I wanted, and I genuinely like the area — but sometimes I get stuck feeling like I failed somehow by moving back.

Which is obviously dumb. Boo, me!

But what stood out to me from my reflections was that I'm not sure I'll ever experience that kind of childhood nostalgia. Not the fighting evil nannies kind of nostalgia, but the pilgrimage to this place that nurtured you and turned you into the person you are today. I went to the same school for 13 years of my life, so I experienced some sort of reminiscing throughout that by visiting the areas of campus where I used to have classes. I'd visit with my elementary school teachers once I got to high school if I had a moment to spare. I'd look at the big tree on the lawn and remember feeling like it's a little smaller than I remember it being when I was a kid.

I feel minor nostalgia every day. I work remotely out of the coffee shop where I did my AP homework. The beach where I hung out with my friends on the weekends looks the same. My younger sibling still wears the uniform I used to put on half-asleep every morning.

Those tiny nostalgia experiences are what will perhaps prevent me from having novel-esque reflections while staring in the distance at nothing in particular. I will not be our nameless protagonist.

Or maybe I will be! Who knows, honestly. I'm still a little-itty-bitty child. My parents might have some insight on it, since they had a similar experience, but I'm not sure.

I have felt a little bit of nostalgia this holiday season as my friends still in college come home for their winter breaks. Hanging out with them transports me back to my teenage self, but something about it feels off. I leave our interactions with the affirmation that nothing will be the same. I'm okay with that, but it's still a little sad to leave it behind.