Browsing through Wikiquote, I chanced upon the page of "The Wonder Years". This show used to be telecast on Star in the mid-to-late 90s in the afternoons at 4:30; I would get back from school just in time to change my clothes and eat my evening snack in front of the TV . As I went through the page, I was transported back to the my time in school, the time before I turned all worldly-wise and cynical and stopped trying to make sense of things around me.
Going through the page, I realised I remembered many episodes very vividly. The nostalgia here hits you harder not only because I saw that show before I left home (and the life associated therewith) but also because it was a show about nostalgia. Granted, there wasn't much common that happened in my life with Kevin Arnold's in terms of actual events (particularly those relating to the incomparable Winnie Cooper) but then the connect went deeper than that.
"It was a strange and passionate time. Some of our dreams dissolved into thin air. They almost seem comical now. But some of our dreams are lasting and real"
Adolescence is the age when you pay a lot of attention to yourself. I mean as a child, your thinking is mostly driven by your parents and teachers, after 20 you start worrying about the future and after that you are almost always too embroiled with the world to pay attention to yourself (Note : I am extrapolating based on the life of adults I have seen and the way my life is shaping here - I have no direct evidence of this. In the realm of possibility, maybe most middle-aged people actually spend a lot of time in self-exploration rather than worrying about their kids' education and collecting enough to buy a house.) So, it was the time I used to dream; at various times, I thought of becoming a cricketer (not caring that I found it difficult to even carry a bat), a film-star, a treasure hunter (yes! I used to actually spend a lot of time digging the fields behind my house, the high point of the brief career being a shoe my father had lost a few years before) and many such things. It was the time, when the mind was trying to think on its own. I wouldn't go so far as to say that watching the show changed my life, but yes at times it gave me some perspective; told me it was okay to be confused.
"In 7th grade, who you are is what other 7th graders say you are. The funny thing is it’s hard to remember the names of kids you spent so much time trying to impress".
I used to very self-conscious when in school, maybe everybody was, but then I didn't know that. There were a few girls I had crushes on and I used to behave very awkwardly around them. I remember straightening my tie for the perfect knot, agonizingly removing the last crease from my shirt, trying to get the perfect curl on my forehead. I was taking the first tentative steps in the field of male-female relationship dynamics - and it was very difficult, and complicated and interesting and full of discoveries all at the same time. I guess we all start by assuming that the world is logical and plays by certain rules - and hope to discover what they are.
"Maybe we weren't aware of it then, amid the school paper-drives, and the scalloped potatoes, and the sounds of the neighbor's children playing... But life was rich there… In our small sanctuary. And precious."
And it is now that I have begun to yearn for the place I spent my childhood in. I spent around a week there some time back and remembered being calm and comfortable with my surroundings after a lot of time. It's not as if growing up is perfect - in fact it is a very painful period fraught with possibility of scars that last lifetimes, but it is also the last peaceful calm before the inevitable storm. And having left the shores now, I can only look back and wonder.
"Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like a lot of other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder."
The next best thing to do is to watch the show again. Will try to get my hand on some episodes. :D