Age and Nostalgia

My grandfather recently celebrated his 90th birthday. I can’t imagine being around for so long and living so independently like they are still. So much must have changed in nine decades: he would have lived through the effects of a World War with the Japanese occupation, seen the rise of technology (including explorations in space such as man on the moon) — though they have yet to adopt the Internet, and lived to greet at least three generations.  If those in my generation lived that long, we would remember the fall of Pluto as a planet (maybe man on Mars), the rise of the Internet and wireless communication, and while no war has become World War III yet, “terrorists” and wars are still everywhere.

I’ve taken some steps down memory lane while here, and it’s slightly disorienting when the things you remember are still somewhat there but also somewhat changed; it’s definitely a reminder that time doesn’t stand still or wait for you to come back:

  • The neighbourhood of my childhood has changed from two storey houses to a mix of houses with the same exteriors (perhaps somewhat updated inside like ours), small multi-storey condo townhouses, and demolished-and-rebuilt homes with forceful grandeur that feel somewhat out-of-place with the neighbouring smaller, original houses and the existing above-ground wiring on the street.
  • Because of the new condo developments, streets have either become wider or have even seemingly appeared out of nowhere (where the house with the pet goat once stood)
  • The elementary school of my youth and my dreams,  has the same layout but updated and expanded (thus shrinking the play area and the awesome wooden fort structures have been replaced with plastic). I look at my itty bitty self on the wall in the school photos and the faint lines left behind that hint at the doors of the past, but stark reality hits me that I am now the parent and no longer a student when a child care worker wonders if I’m lost, ma’am (yes, I don’t recognize this new wing!) and when I ask the office staff about whether any teachers are still around as I recognize one or two names on their staff list, they are quick to laugh and say that they’re probably retired by now. Today, the StrongStart classroom (an early years program that helps children become familiar with a school setting particularly their local school and prepare them for kindergarten and beyond, which as a parent I think is an amazing initiative) was once where I spent Grade 3 (though it’s been changed to accommodate the program and the renovations). Ah, the circle of life.
  • At White Spot, burgers don’t taste as good as I remember; the buns are chewy and stick to the top of my mouth. My father says that it’s because they used to bake them in-house and now they just outsource them. While the drive-in is still available at the Guildford location, they renovated too, but the service isn’t for the better. We sat there after we were done waiting for someone to come collect our dishes and ask if we wanted any dessert (we did), but no one came. Sadly, we had to flag down someone for the bill and skipped the dessert.

But really, aging is a part of life and change is necessary, because if things were stagnant and didn’t change, it might become like the completed commercial building that still sits empty after 16 years (…was a manure mushroom farm before that…)

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