A Trip Down Memory Creek – The Power of Nostalgia

My entertainment choices lately have been fuelled by one emotion: nostalgia. Be it books, films or box sets, recently I’ve found myself retreating to old favourites I know I’ll love. If you read my Little Loves posts regularly, you’ll know that in recent months I’ve been reminiscing over 80’s classics like Top Gun, Pretty in Pink and The Karate Kid. Like a pair of comfortable slippers, I know I can slip these favourites on and be transported back to a time, a place, and the memories they evoke.

It’s not so much that I’m trying to relive my youth or recreate it. I’m 41 now and actually pretty happy as I am. I think it’s more about trying to latch onto the emotions these favourites stir up in me – childhood trips to the video rental store, weekends spent watching Grease on repeat, a battered poster of Ralph Macchio in my bedroom. After a good dose of nostalgia I feel more positive and grateful. And yes – I might also shed a little tear for something (or someone) long gone and distant too. Nostalgia is the perfect happy/sad emotion – it represents an appreciation of what is gone while bringing attention to what is now, and what will be in the future. Today will be the past someday. There is a certain grace in knowing that one day you will be nostalgic about right now.

Painting of Heart on Wall

And so it is with my latest nostalgia injection – all six seasons of Dawson’s Creek on DVD. My husband bought them for me on EBay (the romance!) after I’d been told about the casts’ 20th anniversary reunion earlier in the year. As I held the discs in my hands I couldn’t wait to settle down and return to Capeside – and as the opening credits began, do you know what? I was 21 again.

When Dawson’s Creek first aired in 1998, I was in Glasgow, living in a tiny flat with my boyfriend-slash-future-husband in the final months of my undergraduate degree. On Saturday evenings (and later Sundays), everything would stop for an hour with Dawson, Joey and the gang. I was mesmerised by their on-screen interactions, their raging hormones and the surprisingly big words in their vocabulary. Most of all, their constant analysing and dissecting of every situation reminded me of myself and some of my own friends at the time.

And so it continued for the next five or so years, through graduations, first jobs, engagements and first home renovations. It became a weekly ritual – this was in back the day when you had to wait a whole week for the next episode to air. No bingeing – just a steady, slow approach towards maturity. And in the manner of life and television, things changed, people died and time went marching on.

I look back at that era of Dawson’s Creek now as a simpler time, a place where the thrill of anticipation was perhaps a little more commonplace. After missing one episode, I recall pinning a cry for help on the electronic noticeboard at my then place of work. I spent a whole lunchtime walking the sprawling site of said workplace to pick up a borrowed VHS copy from another fan who had answered my call to action.  There was no on-demand, no catch-up, just grainy screens and fiddling about with video recorders. It all seems a bit prehistoric now, but do you know what? In my head it’s also coated with a faint yet gleaming glow.

Pink Roses and Sweet Williams in Jar

And dare I say it? I was always in the Team Dawson camp (we were a small but dedicated contingent numbering about 3). Perhaps my loyalties were in part due to my own experience of a teenage love affair, the ensuing drama, break-ups and reconciliations – and thankfully, the happy ending we got to in the final scenes. I suppose I always wanted Dawson and Joey to get that happy ending – and when the final episode aired I was…well let’s just say I was a little out of sorts. I could not believe I had invested all that time and effort to come to that particular conclusion. But after circling round the first four stages of the grief cycle several times I finally moved towards acceptance and grudgingly got on with my life.

And now, watching it again after all these years, all those memories come flooding back to me. Yes, the show may look a little dated now, and yes, they really do talk about those raging hormones quite a lot! But when I hear those cries of ‘I don’t wanna wait!’ ring out I’m back in that flat, back in my first job, back to the heady days of first love – and I can feel those emotions all around me. Emotions that help me write a bit better, feel a bit deeper and live every moment cherishing the present.

Well, that’s my excuse for bingeing my way through the next six seasons, anyway.

And the best bit of all? This time I know exactly how the story’s going to end.

G x