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  • Writer's pictureAcacia Gabriel

The future nostalgia of film photos

Updated: May 6, 2023

Film photos feel like future nostalgia in a way that I can’t quite capture.

They are portals to moments. They take me back to college shenanigans and they bring me back to the people who made me smile. They are transportation devices to Election Night at the boys’ house, game day with friends, Sabrina’s Harry Potter themed 21st birthday. They flash back to the laughter, the chaos, and the life that I simultaneously have and that is slipping out of my reach.

But, more importantly, they take me back to the moments that I don’t want to forget. The small details that usually get lost in the chaos.

They captured the sunset on my balcony. The brilliance of the pink and orange lighting up the sky and the silhouette of the palm tree are all caught in one grainy frame. The clouds that dispersed long ago can still be seen.

In the backgrounds of photos, you can see the subtle items that we would otherwise lose to time and the fading of our memories. The yellow hydro flask that I carry around religiously, the organ the boys found on the side of the street, the matching pink slippers. The trash can fires that we once used to burn regrets and read our futures. The hopelessly messy, scattered room that housed hours of secrets that will never be told.

All of these props feel so powerful and relevant. One day they will be lost, foreign, and far away.

It’s hard not to look back with sadness as I feel different chapters of my life coming to a close. Holding onto them is like holding on to sand as it falls through an hourglass: useless and exhausting.

This semester is over, and, in many ways, thank god. The world was practically ending for most of it and I still worry that our lives will never go back to the way they were. This semester was full of disappointments, struggles, and heartaches. And yet, despite it all, we also filled it with light, joy, and gratitude. For every low, there was a high. We replaced the big parties and bars with intimacy and genuine connection. The spaces we used to stuff with frivolous distractions were instead met with hard-cutting introspection and, therefore, growth.

As much as film photos transport me backward, they also send me forwards. I am filled with the fond remembrance of looking back to college. Of being young, careless, and ridiculous. It’s funny to feel the perspective, longing, and nostalgia of the future while I’m still locked in this time and place.

We truly are the oldest we have ever been but the youngest we will ever be again. As much as I cherish the wisdom and maturity my past experiences have given me, I am still so dumb and unexposed. It reminds me to keep making every mistake (ditching homework to be with friends, staying out later than I should, falling too hard) because I’ll leave this place in time too soon and I will regret the mistakes I didn’t make more than the ones I did.

When I look at these photos in ten years I won’t be fixated on the way my skin looked or sad about the boy who didn’t like me back. I will laugh at the memories and be inspired by the capacity and courage of my heart.

So, spring semester, I know you are not here yet, but I am so excited for you. I would say take it easy on me, but what’s the fun in that?



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