Nicotine and backgammon

Nostalgia is a funny phenomenon…

I moved around a lot as a kid. Three years in a place was an average.

But I was born in Glendale. My aunt and my grandmother lived there too. My aunt moved around some, but she ended up back in Glendale. I spent many a weekend at my grandmother’s apartment, swimming in the concrete enclosed pool overlooked by every apartment, watching my aunt and grandmother play backgammon for pennies, and generally just being a kid.

When you’re a kid, life is what it is. You don’t do a lot of soul searching or thinking about socioeconomics or addiction.

But when you get older, and you look back over your reading glasses at the nicotine tinted past, you begin to analyse. You think of the serial killer who lived on the second floor for a while, and how he gave the three of you the creeps. You think of running across the road to the 7-eleven to get beer for your aunt, and when you explained that to the cashier, they sold it to your nine-year-old self. You think of the boy you crushed on, and how you never saw him again, even though his grandmother lived there for the rest of her days. You think of your matriarchal family’s last days in those peeling studio apartments.

Nostalgia. Remembering a past through a different set of lenses.

I ended up back in Glendale not long before I left the country for good. I never thought I’d live just down the street from that apartment in my childhood, which now sported police crime tape and shattered windows at the front entrance. But it was good for me, I realise now. I went back to put my past to rest, to lay down the alcohol fumes and despair, to leave behind the guilt and loss.

I can look back with clear eyes and smile at the memories rather than shrink from the ghosts.

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