Beware of nostalgia: you weren’t the same person back then

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In an explosion of red and orange sparkles,
I was visited last night by my fourteen-year-old self.
He appeared right in the middle of the living room.
“Holy cow,” he told me, his eyes open wide,
“just look at all this stuff you have.
“That thing on the wall is a television?
“That black, plastic rectangle is a phone?
“Come on.
“That folded thing on the desk is a computer?
“Wait – how many kilobytes of memory does it have?
“GIGAbytes? Get out of here!
“So how do you load stuff into it?
“You load it THROUGH THE AIR?!
“Seriously, this is unbelievable.
“How can you – I mean I – afford all this?”
I cut him off before we got to all-you-can-eat data plans,
and YouTube and Skype and Wikipedia.
I didn’t want to blow his mind.
“Look,” I told him, “don’t be fooled by any of this.
“I’d trade it all in a heartbeat to go back to when you come from.
“Life was great in the eighties:
“the music, the movies, the magic of eight bit video games;
“TV shows that ended each episode in the exact same spot they began.
“Everything was simple back then.
“You knew where things were headed.”
“Well up until right now,” the boy said,
“I thought we were headed for World War III.
“How can you possibly remember my everyday
“as better than any of this?”
And I thought about that for a moment.
I looked at his unlined skin and ungreyed hair
and realised I’d been missing all the wrong things;
I realised I’d been looking out instead of in,
perceiving simplicity when all along it was only the lens that,
back then, was pure.
So I tousled his hair
and let him play Angry Birds for half an hour.
When it was time for him to go, I said,
“Say hi to your dad from me.”
“And mum?” he asked in reply.
I could have answered that I can still do that myself.
But that would have cracked his lens.
“Of course,” I told him.
“Say hi to her too.”

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