Last weekend, I was half-heartedly flipping through channels on the TV when I stumbled across an episode of “Roseanne” that featured Glenn Quinn. For those of you who’ve never seen the show, Quinn played Mark Healy, the long-term boyfriend (maybe husband, later, I can’t remember) of Becky, Roseanne’s eldest daughter. He’s perhaps best known for this role, and for his stint as Doyle on the first season of “Angel.”
My High School BFF and I had huge crushes on Quinn. Honestly, what wasn’t there to like? He was handsome, with dark hair and beautiful green eyes, and the Irish accent, holy cow (on “Roseanne” he used a fake American accent but you can hear his natural one on “Angel”). Sadly, Quinn died young, in 2002, of a drug overdose. So to did my BFF Julie, in 2004, in a horseback riding accident.
But I digress. Seeing Quinn in the episode of “Roseanne” reminded me of the terrible show he starred in in the early 90s, “Covington Cross.” Julie and I loved this show, in part (I think) for the man candy but also in part for the fact that it was about medieval times, which, as fantasy/sci fi nerds, we approved of. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Covington Cross” lasted all of 13 episodes.
I got curious to see if it was as bad as I recalled. A quick search on YouTube showed that some kind soul had actually uploaded a few episodes. I watched about five minutes of the pilot, which included a bitch slap fight between the main female character (played by 80s goddess Ione Sky) and another woman. Because, you know, that’s how people rolled in medieval times. So, yeah, it was as bad as I recalled. You can check it out if you want, but it doesn’t even really reach that “so bad it’s funny” category.
Anyway, all this got me to thinking about nostalgia. With my 20-year HS reunion coming up this year (oy vey), nostalgia has actually been on my mind a lot lately. The funny thing is, I’m a much less nostalgic person than I used to be. I think there are a couple of reasons for this, both of which are intricately intertwined.
For one, there are large chunks of my life that I don’t have many reasons to be very nostalgic about. I had a difficult childhood – not so bad as many, but not so good as most either. When I was younger, I felt like I never had the freedom to be myself – and to be liked for being myself – until I went away to college. Although the college years were good, I later struggled throughout most of my 20s.
In fact, it wasn’t until I hit 30 that, I believe, I truly began to find myself. The more I grew comfortable in my own skin, the happier I became. Despite the fact that a lot of really, really crappy things have happened in the last few years, I’m the happiest now that I’ve ever been. So what’s the point in looking back? Why harken back to times that weren’t nearly as good as the one I have now?
Still, I think it’s impossible not to reflect. And I suppose it’s not particularly advisable to ignore the past. Sometimes it’s important to remember where we’ve come from, how much we’ve struggled to get here, and how far we’ve come. Whenever I’m struggling with something now, I like to remember how I used to let myself be so unhappy all the time. Although I wince at how much time I wasted, it helps to keep me grounded. I can’t go back and change things that happened, but I can control my responses to the now.
I hear people say all the time, “They haven’t made any good music/movies/books since (arbitrary decade that the speaker prefers [usually the one he/she came of age in]).” I think that’s bull. It gets right to the heart of the matter of what makes nostalgia dangerous. While it’s good to remember how we’ve gotten to where we are, if we idolize the past, we tend to forget to pay attention to what’s good in the now.
I’m trying to hold on to this as I work through some emotions this week surrounding my first disappointment in terms of my writing. I’m not perfect, you know. I still allow myself to wallow sometimes. But then I sit down to write, and I look at my words, and I think to myself, “You know what? Now is pretty good. In fact, now is great.”