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Letter from the Editor-in-chief
Of all the themes that we have done this year, I think that this one was, for me, the hardest to pin down. Nostalgia’s a weird one for a lot of us, I think. It’s weird because you feel it when you don’t think you will. It’s not like any other emotion, that seems to have a specific trigger—it just happens. You’re sitting in a cafe, you see a picture of a cake just like your mom used to make for Easter, and it happens. You get sick on a road trip and make dinosaurs out of the clouds to keep from throwing up, and it happens. You’re at Starbucks and you hear your deadname called, and it happens. It makes us miss things that you think you wouldn’t miss—I miss when my little sister was a baby, and she’d grab my hair with her sticky hands when I changed her diaper. When I was a kid, I hated when this would happen, but now that she’s no longer a baby and I don’t have hair for her to grab the same way, I kind of miss it. I don’t miss the feeling of her pulling my hair, but I miss what it meant to me. I miss when she was little and I could take care of her in a way that was plain and simple. I miss when I had something to offer her that she could take into her entire little hand.
I think that college especially is a lesson in nostalgia—each year, there’s a new handful of friends, roommates, memories, lovers, spaces, and moments that you say goodbye to as you move on to the next year. Returning home for the summer is, in my experience, nostalgic in the worst way, because you’re reminded of and longing for a life that exists as a shell of its former self. It’s nostalgic to have more than one home. It’s nostalgic to remember what home used to be. It’s nostalgic to enter each moment of your life, loving and losing and remembering what things used to be not too long ago, to embrace what is whole now and won’t be whole forever.
Nostalgia’s a really weird one for me to write about right now because I’m going by a new name, and that was a really hard decision for me. I knew that when I decided to give up my old name, I was giving up a part of me—a part that my parents picked for me, a part that so many people I love have known me by, and a part that has not defined but identified a lot of who I used to be. To say that I’m sad to see it go would be far too simplistic; I know that this is the right decision for me, a new moment of my life that I’ve been waiting for over a year to enter. With this name goes so much of the dysphoria and pressure that is attached to my identity as an AFAB (assigned female at birth) person; but I’m still going to miss it, even though it’s made me feel so confined and controlled by an identity that no longer resonates with me. I love my old name, but I don’t want to need it anymore. Isn’t that strange?
I don’t just feel this with my name, but with reflection as a whole. I haven’t even left for the year yet, and I’m already missing so much. I’m missing popping champagne with my writer friends after their senior reading just as much as I’m missing crying on their apartment floor after my first big breakup. I’m missing friendships that I’ve left behind for good reason as much as I’m missing the friendships that I love that will become more separated by distance. I’m missing moments that I’ve gotten to spend with the people I love as much as I’m missing the moments that I’m going to miss when they’re gone. There’s no good way to explain any of this.
Some of my favorite submissions came in under this edition, and that makes a lot of sense to me—nostalgia is sweet and sentimental as much as it is biting and hollow. It’s growth and gratitude and love as much as it is the remnants of loss. It is the beautiful memory that we have of that which mattered to us, and it’s so important but so hard to hold.
What I’m left with feeling, after all the memories are smoothed over in my head and tucked like porcelain dolls under silk bedcovers, is love. I want to kiss every moment that I’ve spent with my friends. I want to hold every time that I saw fresh snow. I want to love every memory and know how much it meant to me, in all its complexity and imperfection. And I do. I love it. All of it.