Something peculiar I’ve noticed in recent days is how we are all reminiscing a lot as we spend more time together as families (and, maybe, friends). I’m not so surprised as this is a familiar coping mechanism, especially to hark back to ‘better’ days. However, it’s funny what triggers it, and what others do with memories that resurface, whether they are part of the memory or not. For us, it’s interesting because our household is currently with three generations (visiting grands) not the usual two (parents and child) or recent one (parents). Those involved in the recollections often have different reminiscences, and disputes can arise as these different recollections contend for credibility.

I’m also intrigued by what triggers some recollections. For instance, out of the blue, it seems, I had thoughts early this morning about my first visits to Moscow in 1994. Out of the blue isn’t really right, because during those early visits I saw the waning lights of Soviet life, which was often about limited access to basic consumer goods, and as we see people struggle with that during the pandemic, I’ve drawn attention in recent weeks to some of those Russian experiences, eg people lining up for bread, as we’ve seen people lining up fervently for bread and other ‘essentials’ in Jamaica in recent weeks. It’s a common response to scarcity and uncertainty.

Moscow bread line; a common sight in the former Soviet Union
Portmore residents lining up for groceries during lockdown

But, what other memories have been floating back? We’ve spent a lot of time over dinner retelling stories and my daughter has been the main beneficiary as her life is the shortest and the adults all have lots of living under their belts.

The grands have recounted their stories when children in Inagua, and harked back to their parents and even grandparents. My daughter has begged to hear and been surprised to hear about her parents’ lives before she was born. She also only has vague recollections about her fist three year in Guinea, west Africa, so was fascinated when I retold stories of when she was about a year old and we went on an adventurous road trip it’s my father, visiting from Jamaica. She knows we’ve done many things in different countries, but the stories come without time lines. So, when I mentioned fondue and her mother then mentioned spending time in Basel, Switzerland, before we’d ever met, our daughter was all ears.

Funnily enough, at various stages during the past weeks, I’ve rifled through old photographs and last week was trying to see if I could convert slides into images from when I coached football/soccer in the late-1990s. Photos are vivid reminders, and often of positive events. The counterpart to that is our recording of memories of living through the current pandemic. Notably, the images are of people enjoying themselves, nothing negative or sombre.

I spoke to a psychiatrist who told me that many people are feeling ‘nostalgia’ right now. She explained part of what is happening now is similar to grief. We’re all mourning the loss of something, whether it be the normalcy of our every day, human contact we took for granted, feeling relatively certain about the future. Reflecting on those times are comforting as we move through the emotions of grief. It’s also a reminder that this isn’t a permanent condition. We are here now, but we won’t be forever