ramblings from a body of somekind

The beauty of nostalgia

February 27, 2024

  • waffle

It’s half 10 at night. I should be in bed, getting ready to sleep. Today has been a tough day for me, technology-wise, I should need rest. And yet, here I am, wide awake, typing this blog post entry while listening to Snow Patrol and Kings of Leon.

In my house, I have a 5G router as due to the location of my house, the best wired broadband connection will get me about roughly 30mbps (to my European friends, yes I am dead serious). So a while ago, I decided to invest in a 5G router. Turns out it was cheaper and faster than the landline by a factor of 10x…

…Except for today, where for some utterly bizarre reason, I cannot get 5G internet connection, and the 4G internet connection is awful. To explain how bad it is, I can barely load Hacker News. Hacker News!

Sadly, this isn’t my first rodeo with unreliable internet. Virgin Media has given me blackouts of a few hours, so I have a NAS of all my media, such as movies and music. The music collection on the NAS is effectively a lifelong collection of all our old albums we’ve bought (and eventually sold) over the decades - to say my music collection is eclectic is putting it very lightly.

I’ve recently been listening to a mix of 80s pop, 90s rock, and classic jazz, but admittedly I’ve been missing something from my music. I get to listen to music I’ve never heard of from Spotify, but… I don’t know… something is missing.

So, as I’ve said, today has been a bit of a technological mess.

I tried turning on the lights, but completely forgot I installed “””smart””” lights that apparently need a message to be sent in some remote server somewhere in order to turn on my lights. And given my internet was so poor it might as well be down, I had to go back to my old dumb light bulbs.

I tried watching some of my old movies from my NAS from my Xbox, but my Xbox kept demanding I sign in. Clearly, the network connection proved too much for the newfangled species.

Luckily I have Emby on my NAS drive, so I went digging around for some movies and tv shows to watch to pass the time while I’m in this horrid internet blackout (and having an internet blackout in 2024, you might as well be off the grid for how thoroughly isolating the experience is). It was then when I discovered my music collection.

However, Emby has picked up several duplicates from me copying my music collection over on multiple computers and digital services. No matter - I no longer exist. This is the perfect time to do something incredibly boring and mundane like cleaning up my music collection on my NAS.

So as I’m clearing out all the duplicate crap, I remember the bands which I’ve hoarded this collection of songs. I remember the reasons why I collected. A fair chunk of it is quite embarrassing - mostly due to my younger self’s sense of taste, whereas the older me would not actively seek out, for example, chiptune music (yes, university me thought he was very cool, clever, and unique for listening to bleeps and bloops. Well put together bleeps and bloops, but bleeps and bloops nevertheless).

Then I see a few albums from my collection that just place me at a time and place _instantly.

One of those albums was Snow Patrol’s Final Straw. When I first heard Snow Patrol, I think I was in secondary school. I seem to remember having this oddly passionate debate at how even though there was a massive surge of indie rock songs, I didn’t think they all sounded the same.

Honestly, I can’t really remember the point I was making nor do I remember the actual argument. I just remember arguing about it as if it was the most important thing in the world. Like, I had to win this argument. This silly, meaningless argument which would not shape my world - nor anyone else’s world, for that matter - was such a huge deal.

Not only that, but I remember listening to the Final Straw album and just feeling like anything was possible in the future. I was still young! My future can be shaped! It felt equally as powerful as it felt daunting as hell; exciting, yet anxiety inducing. The feeling is sort of like going for a new job, but the entirely of my future was my job, including future prospects for higher education.

As soon as I started playing Final Straw, all these memories came flooding back like a big tidal wave to the shore, ready to pull me into sea. And I was ready to embrace the ocean of nostalgia.

As I continue to chase those feelings evermore, I remember I had a Seal compilation album. The first song on this album floods my mind; I had just been to the open day for the sixth form, and I knew I was going to love it as I got to see the Computing department. That open day sealed the deal for me, and I knew from that point onwards that this was what I wanted to do.

On the drive back home, my brother winds down the window, the cool air blasts into the car. He pops the CD in and Bring it on (Acoustic) starts playing. After what I had witnessed, my life felt unreal. The song felt like such a calling, like it was daring me to accept this new path in my life.

My brother would then go on to help me to get me into the university that I wound up in, giving me lots of love and encouragement along the way. To this day I absolutely treasure what he did and I will forever be grateful for his help in shaping my future in such a significant manner.

Even still, the feeling that I felt at sixth form was even more scarier, as I was (back then) becoming “grown up” by going into university. No more mandatory attendance needed. I can potentially learn on my own accord. I can live my own life. I get to live the student uni life.

That… didn’t quite happen - I went to university, but student accommodation in the area was incredibly expensive (£900 per week), so I commuted every day to university. I still to this day do not understand how I managed to do just that - I think for me, the opportunity to go to that university to do Computer Science was worth the commute struggles.

Admittedly, my university memories aren’t as… positive… as my secondary school/sixth form memories. I had a lifelong genetic disorder that, now that I was an “””adult”””, I decided I had to manage it by myself, and I managed it absolutely terribly (as one would do if they had no prior experience in managing an unwieldy genetic disorder).

Anyone who knows ‘the real me’ will know the proper story. I will keep things anonymous on here and not divulge that information, but university was a tough time, as it was the beginning of adulthood. The reason was simple: I was so incredibly ill equipped to deal with all my issues (genetic disorder, which the poor handling turned into severe mental health issues).

However, there are few positive memories I have of university. Lots of it are around the friends I made, and some of the lecturers I met as well as their courses. The one I want to focus on though is the end of the very last exam.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the last exam I did. I want to say AI, but at this point it is absolutely anyones guess. But I remember commuting back home, and I had my headphones on, and I was listening to Kanye West.

I’ll briefly pause here and mention that this was around 2010, and back then Kanye West was known to be a bit of a dickhead, but not the full blown nazi he is now.

Back to the self-indulgent blog post. I was listening to Kanye West’s 808 and Heartbreak. I loved Graduation, and for some reason 808 & Heartbreak really gripped me (I think it was because of the aforementioned mental health issues that I saw beauty in some of the sadness on display). But there was one song that I heard that could literally melt me.

It’s called Street Lights, and the song itself probably isn’t all that amazing (quite frankly, according to whoever you speak, any of the songs/albums I’ve listed here are probably the worst albums ever and clearly I have poor taste in music yada yada who cares honestly).

But coming back home to a sunset from a sunny June/July while hearing “see I know my destination, I know I’m just not there” really, really resonated with me at the time given how I really wanted to become a software developer, but I didn’t know my university results, and the future now seemed more daunting than ever.

And it’s funny. All these memories - feelings of power, feelings of futility, feeling of anxiety and fear over what the future holds for us. All of these potent memories and feelings, just locked away in a few songs in a few albums, mostly forgotten by folks.

And it feels so funny and freeing to go back to the feelings of anxiety and fear over leaving university knowing how things have turned out.

That feeling of futility that I had to accept adulthood as, of course, looking back I realise how much of that “adulthood” that the sixth form put an emphasis on was just training wheels on the bike of life.

That feeling of power and excitement over an unshaped future, ready for the taking - the lack of jadedness over the realisation that, yes, things are actually super complicated and there are deep, historical reasons for such silly amounts of complexity that I alone cannot just trample on with shoes of ignorance (unless I don’t mind being hated, which it turns out I do actually).

But the one thing I could never envision in my youth with all that excitement over an unshaped future is that I would fail to turn on a light bulb due to a poor internet connection.

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