Feeling the sights and sounds of my youth

Aug 1, 2011

The other day, driving to NC State to discuss logistics for ScienceOnline2012, I took a break from the rage-inducing coverage of the political hostage taking in Washington, and tuned into the Eighties channel on SiriusXM. Up came this song:

Whenever I hear songs from my youth, I viscerally sense those teenage days; nostalgia must clearly have a chemical basis (a quick literature search and I see that perhaps even worms feel nostalgic). Hearing Cyndi Lauper (or Christopher Cross or Duran Duran or Journey or REO Speedwagon or Musical Youth) singing, I could feel myself back at my desk in the small bedroom on St. Croix as Time After Time emanated from the single speaker of my grey radio with its one tape deck.

Good days, they were, with a great soundtrack.

Back in March, I was in Asheville with the family and good friends, and in the basement of the hillside house where we were staying, I encountered the very radio that made my youth so musical.

UPDATE 10/21/2011: In searching my blog archives, I came across a photo of me in St. Croix holding the radio.

Similarly, last night I caught a few minutes of U-571, a film about a WWII submarine. That had me feeling back to Rainbow Beach and the paperback novels about underwater cat-and-mouse games. I wrote about that memory in Below the surface.

Recently, I brought back a couple of boxes of papers and mementos that had been stored in the Cleveland attic of my in-laws. I opened one box, grabbed a random envelope, and discovered the green spiral notebook that listed all of the naval vessels I watched pull into the Frederiksted pier, with notes about which I toured — the first was the USS Trepang on April 7, 1983 (which would have been just days after we arrived on St. Croix and days after my 13th birthday), the last was the US Coast Guard Cutter Alert on March 5, 1984.

My father and my grandfather both taught me the importance of keeping track of things in notebooks. “You never know when you’ll need these lists,” my dad suggested. I’m so glad he did, because this notebook with a thirteen-year-old’s penciling means my nostalgia has a basis in time, too.

Anton Zuiker

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