Finding a little happiness in nostalgia

When throughout the last year I have been stressed, I found comfort by watching movies and tv series on Netflix on the iPad in bed. A cold drink, cat at the end purring, slowly falling asleep while sitting up against the back of bed. A formula which sometimes worked. And sure, sometimes it did not, but for the most part it calmed me down, made hours pass and it helped make some tough days to turn into the next day.

tl;dr In this first blog of the year, I want to share what just made me happy while checking out a movie on Netflix. It’s really the little things that can make someone happy. Nostalgie can be one of them. This blog also explains a bit more about who I am inside my head.

Some gems were found like Fargo (season two). As well as some dirty little pleasures like the silly show Wet Hot American Summer. But all in all, I am not sure it really mattered what was on.

Today it was not just me who was calm. The weather was just beautiful, and after waking up with the nostalgia of these movies, I went for a bike ride. I found this spot and put my camera down to create a timelapse.

The funny thing is though. It gave me time to either let go of whatever was bothering me. While at the same time it let me focus on different thoughts. One of them being that wonderful nostalgic feeling I had from when I was younger, .. and much younger. And before I will jump into what made me actually write this first blog post of 2016 in the calm of the early dawn of January the first, I want to try and explain that what just made me experience this feeling of happiness, where the nostalgia came from.

fargo poster

Back to earlier this morning, the purpose of this blog post really. I love watching Fargo on TV, I love watching great movies like Lord of the Rings, but perhaps because of my bad eyes that I needed an escape. This silly albinism comes with shaky eyes, headaches, blurred vision, etc.

This frustration, physical pain, and (somewhat) unhappy feeling following me from since I was a kid, it is always an emotional struggle; this stupid albinism taunting me on a daily basis while I am trying to sleep, play, get through a (school) day, do my hobbies, my (home)work, and go along with the flow of life and the people around me.

It almost feels like a dark passenger that jumped on my back and clung on tight digging its claws deep into my skin, unable to ever let go, taking over control and holding me capture. It wasn’t fun when ‘in real life’ nobody seemed to understand me, when I was unable to explain or express myself. And my only solution throughout my youth, my adolescence, all the way up to my future death, is making-the-best-of-it, and acceptance (Fuck.. hey Morpheus give me the red pill, I want to wake up in the bliss of ignorance).

Maybe with the lack of the Matrix that it was logical that I escaped into my own mind, my sanctum sanctorum, where I am 100% ‘me’ and can hide from the reality of time and space, muem locum refrigerii. … Did I just give away why the sub-line to my bio usually reads ’a little bit of me’? (Yes, think really hard about how far that rabbit hole goes.)

matrix pills

Anyway, conceivably it is not so far-fetched that I like (and like to escape with) tv series and movies. They’re almost a glimpse into someone’s comfort zone. Their stories are not bound to the laws of physics either, their time and space can be anything. Maybe that’s why I am drawn to them, a probability I am not shying away from; binge watching an unreality has been my cheat code to life. Ergo, todays blog entry about finding a little happiness in nostalgia.

My youngest movie experience that comes to mind when I close my eyes and think about film is my brother coming home really excited in 1982 or 1983 (when I was around 6 years old) with a new magical device. A videocassette player. It was dark in the living room and it must have been near Christmas. Maybe his friends were there too, I couldn’t tell you for my eyes were locked in on this machine with the promise of hours of escape by a click of a button.

vcr player
indiana jones tape

I remember my sister and me fighting over where to sit on the brown couch (I ended up on the ground in front of it). Indiana Jones, and as if a second passed when the nearly two hour movie from 1981 flew by on the screen, I knew I found a solution to everything; for in that unreality I found peace and happiness.

What I also remember is the moment right after the movie. Exactly three things. “What are you doing?” I asked my brother. “Rewinding it”, which felt like it took forever. because (2) I could not wait any longer to watch it again “Can we see it again”, I asked, to which someone said a clear no, it was almost 11pm (I remember this so vividly).

My final question (after feeling disappointed that this magical moment was not going to last forever): “What did you think of it?”, and I was pulled back again into reality when someone said “It was okay”, and someone else said “I don’t know, not sure I liked it, I am into other sorts of movies”. My eyes blinked a few times in disbelieve, my mind started racing and I looked around for someone to appear to understand what just happened. Did I just find the cheat code to life and did everybody else here just fucking miss that?

Even though it was obviously all in Dutch, my brother looked at me with a huge smile on his face and said something along the lines of: “It was pretty awesome”. My heart calmed down, I knew I could count on him. He might not have realised it at the time, but he made me feel like I was not alone, so I replied: “Yeah, pretty awesome”. And as a six year old it was enough to believe that there is someone in the world who completely understands me. Imagine my surprise when I turned 7, and learned about the Indiana Jones sequels, and that there were movies like Star Wars, and Back to the Future – all with sequels as well. Not to mention Terminator, Alien, and Ghostbusters.

Boy were the 80’s and 90’s solved for me. I was ignoring my shaky eyes, avoiding the confusion of life surrounding me (how did everybody always know what was going on, and I was running after the facts? Oh yeah, they had good eyes), and could finally fall asleep distracted enough from my headaches by the wonders of sci-fi, adventure, and directors like fucking George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis who’s movies I was anticipating. Filing up the time in between them with tv series like Knight Rider, The A-team and whatever other crap was on tv.

So during my teen years it was one of the most important things for me to do (besides horseback riding), find friends to go to the movies with. Some summers like 1984 and 1987 were filled with blockbuster movies. It was a weekly Friday or Saturday trip for my dad to drop us off and pick us up again. I can’t imagine the torture it must have been for him on the way home – reliving the movie through us in the backseat of the car. The cinema was where I took my dates too, a bit cliche, but maybe I was trying to share that magic with them.

But it wasn’t until movies like Jurassic Park, Terminator, Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix where everything got stepped up a notch with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and a whole new twist on being reality. Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs to live, Terminator the robots, Lord of the Rings a whole perspective on story telling, and The Matrix even slowed down time like we’ve never seen before. If I wasn’t already heavily invested in film, computers and sci-fi, this pushed me over the edge. The promise that my cheat-code to life would never wear down. Something amazing and newer would be right around the corner to help me get from 0 to 10, to 20, to 30, .. and here we are, 2016… a year away from 40 and just as excited about tv (like Fargo season 2) and movies (like The Martian and fuck yeah Star Wars VII) as I was when I first saw anything on the tv, or from when my brother came home with that VHS tape of Indiana Jones.

But let me tell you, it scared the crap out of me thinking it could all stop any second. That I did not find a cheat-code to life, that the magic would just end because of some new invention overtaking film, and the world would have loved it more. That I would have had to spend my youth and adult years dealing with my albinism, without an escape. What would my locus refrigerii be then? Would it be enough? Just … living life sitting there, clicking like-buttons on cat pictures on Facebook, waiting for some relieve in sleep via pills (and not the ones Morpheus offers), or just drinking away the headaches in the morning to make the day bearable?

Yeah, I write this blog entry in the calm of this 1st of January 2016, at around 6am when the light is creeping in (my mortal enemy) and I hear no cars, no men, no birds, no fireworks. Everybody found their calm – but me, I had to escape after just a few hours of sleep. With Netflix on the iPad in my bed. And I saw that Lord of the Rings is available. I smiled, irony. A little happiness right in front of me, nostalgia even. And it reminded me of everything I shared just now. My friend Michiel de Boer and I, hanging out, playing guitar after school, meeting our girlfriends and staying over in the weekends playing video games, and then Lord of the Ring came. We talked about it for hours.

A movie that would promise to be a Tolkien trilogy, almost never ending (560 minutes I believe), like Star Wars, a story of some friends taking a path through life, making choices. Like we were about to make. About life, work, marriage, everything felt so close. With doom just waiting around the corner if we approach it all wrong. Books were to be read, documentaries to be collected, and awesome movie nights escaping real life diving into this fantasy world following the adventure of these hobbits. A handshake was made, we were going to watch these movies together. Buy the DVD trilogy boxset no matter the cost (yep, we were no longer having low quality VHS tapes, everything digital now). And spend 12 hours back to back watching marathons in the cinema when the third one hit. And then go home to watch the 12 hour long documentary on the extended edition.

Whatever, all I am saying is that it meant a lot, to me. And even if it is just another movie, or “yeah I dunno, maybe not my type of movie” to some. When I have a retina display iPad so I can watch that now low quality dvd movie in full HD glory on a small but super sharp resolution iPad mega-comfy in bed (and up close to my eyes) with a cold drink and a cat purring away at the end of the bed. I think I can take a moment and remember that it is the little things that can mean a lot in life. It made me feel happy that I can enjoy Netflix (or alike) for a handful of dollars, and can basically watch any tv or movie at any time. That I can escape inside my mind and let time (that would otherwise be filled with shaky eyes, blurred vision, headaches, dizzy feelings, or mental exhaustion), be replaced by a fraction of it, bending it, with binge watching something that takes me away.

Hopefully I do not regret giving away a little bit of my secret what makes me tick, I have never been good in sharing. I’ve been a little bit better at making the world work for me, but never at explaining it. But I do not regret staying up many nights with my family in front of the tv, sitting on the floor leaning against my father’s legs watching whatever. Nor do I regret spending hours with friends watching movies until late at night knowing we would probably get into trouble for it, or lose sleep and make a mess of school work next day. Heck, I almost missed an exam because of a premiere. Not to mention that I joined Michiel and his family to travel to the UK to watch Independence Day with him.

But I certainly do not regret having that connection with my brother who came home with the VHS tape of Indiana Jones, it build a core memory that changed my life. Clearly he was on to something. So when I saw him being creative – I wanted to draw. When we visited him after he just moved out for college, and he had a photography dark-room to develop his film – I started a secret passion for capturing moments. When I visited us back home and introduced me to Jeremiah, Thorgal, and other comics – it’s how I got into comics.

So yeah, after a long day of almost no sleep, an emotional week, heck, year… and an early start of 2016, seeing something like Lord of the Rings being available, I couldn’t help but smile, feel happy, and press the play button and disappear.