I sit in my apartment; around me are posters from yesteryear. In front of me are video games dated back from 20 years ago. I can’t eat what I used to eat consistently due to my age. The looming fear of death is punctuated by a global pandemic that was elongated through a President that should, by all means, have remained a reality TV show star. Whenever the television is switched on, my ears are bombarded with the same words about unprecedented times. Outside my place, businesses are boarded up; strangers wander the streets in masks, homelessness runs rampant and going to work feels like a matter of life or death.
One night in my sleep, I dreamt I was a boy. Traveling through the hallway of my house, I was on my way to my local sluggers to play “Mortal Kombat.” I didn’t have the codes for all the moves or fatalities, so I had to obtain a local GamePro magazine to get the combinations I needed. In this dream, a conscious elation galvanized me. I have accomplished time travel. Once more, I’m living my childhood. No President Trump, no pandemic, no disappointments in my life. Only bliss. I knew I was dreaming; I didn’t want to wake. I still hope to fall back into that dream, living my youth forever. All that is left for us to enjoy now is our nostalgia.
What films are there to look forward to when the movies are being pushed back indefinitely? To enter a cineplex is an exercise in either bravery or stupidity. Maybe both. We must mask up, bring the hand sanitizer, and pray no-one coughs or sneezes near us. The theatre has been my church. The first film I recall seeing on the big screen was an image of the two dogs kissing when eating spaghetti from a rerelease of “Lady and The Tramp.” The footsteps of the T-rex rattled into the theatre from the other movie I saw across “Jurassic Park.” When finally watching Spielberg’s spiritual follow-up to “Jaws,” I covered my ears the entire time, afraid of the sheer volume of the picture’s sound mix. For decades I possessed the tickets to “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace,” thinking I won the lottery when my dad told me he found me tickets to the movie on opening day. At this little theatre, I saw “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Batman Returns,” “Hocus Pocus,” the rerelease of the “Star Wars” trilogy, “Men In Black,” “Titanic,” and “Mortal Kombat Annihilation” on my birthday. My father took multiple cigarette breaks during that film. I recall the fire alarm going off during “The Flintstones Movie.” When everyone re-entered the theatre, the reel had to begin at the start of the film. Every parent had to sit through a majority of the picture again. I’m sure my parents loved that.
Now that magical theatre where all those memories were stored is gone. It became a clothing store, then a soccer center for kids. With the pandemic, maybe it will become just another empty building if it isn’t already. My church is gone. My childhood is dead. As much as I try to rekindle some of it with my niece and nephew, I can’t since the pandemic has partially robbed them of their childhood. Children can’t go to Discovery Zone, Disney world, or Chuck E. Cheeze. They can’t enjoy the things I’ve enjoyed. If the parents choose to venture to these places, they may be putting all of their lives at risk.
Whatever aspirations we’ve had are placed on hold. Turn on TBS for a look back at every year before 2020 because “2020 sucks.” The world has seemingly ended in many ways. There’s the new normal, where living in fear is encouraged. Just today, I had to evacuate my parent’s house when visiting them because a relative who came over was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. What is now left for us to look forward to? Are we to never see our family again? Are we to be shamed when visiting the people that mean the world to us? Every night I fall back asleep hoping to relive my dream of nostalgia eternally. What else is there? Even if we vote for the competent adult on the other side of the aisle, we’ll probably still live in isolation for about a year. What happens to the world after COVID?
Uncertainty is the scariest thing that exists in the world. When we’re children, that unpredictability brings about possibility. It’s the chance to dream about whatever career you may choose, with none of the drawbacks from it in mind. Upon maturity, the defects of ambiguity introduces us to a skeptical world. A world that is now so unsure we can’t trust our own family or hold their hands when they’re dying. To sound like another commercial, during these uncertain times, only one thing is guaranteed; our past was the only thing that felt safe. The past is the past; the future is unknown, the present is now. Well, nobody likes this present. To retreat toward the video games, tv shows, toys, or films of the past aren’t signs of immaturity. It’s the only thing keeping us from snapping amidst a hopeless today. Letting go of the past at this moment only leads to a dreary future. Until there is a glimmer of hope, feel free to relive your nostalgia, hold onto those memories dearly; I pray we can once more live the way we did.