As Mad Men comes to it’s final season, I’ve been brushing up on past episodes, remembering the times I laughed, cried, and wrung my hands at the characters who so deftly mirror us in so many ways. Pride, lust, anger, fear, love (?), self loathing, understanding- it’s all there. Just as it is in life past the television screen.
In one of the most memorable episodes, Draper touches on nostalgia and all of it’s impact past “flash”. One of the most incredible advertising pitches, I am the perfect consumer and fell right into everything that he shared with the room. The full quote here:
Well, technology is a glittering lure. But there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product. My first job, I was in-house at a fur company, with this old pro copywriter. Greek, named Teddy. And Teddy told me the most important idea in advertising is “new”. Creates an itch. You simply put your product in there as a kind of… calamine lotion. But he also talked about a deeper bond with the product: nostalgia. It’s delicate… but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means, “the pain from an old wound”. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the Wheel. It’s called a Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Around and around, and back home again… to a place where we know we are loved.
I was in a happy reverie driving home from Seattle around 11pm after sitting under the warm light at Betty, eating expertly made french fries with garlic aoili, sipping on Cava, and surrounded by some of my best and closest friends and family; some of the biggest individual reasons I moved back the United States. While I basked in the glow from a productive, hilarity infused, friend filled day- I also felt a twinge of sadness for the nights I now miss back in Cambodia.
Sitting with my knees up over a bottle of Prosecco with Christina across the table, Esse’s smoking in a light breeze and a slight wash of perspiration always on our foreheads. Whipping around corners on the back of a tuk tuk with Jake Bugg blasting through my headphones, dizzy on dust and excitement. Sitting on the rooftop as the sun rose up from the Mekong River, frenzied and high, high up above the slowly awakening city around me with my Karasse. Laying in bed with a pizza or two, my kittens, and Ritchie- watching Penny Dreadful episode after episode and falling asleep to the sound of murder on screen and Khmer hits from the (open roof) karaoke restaurant next door.
But then I remember, and have to remind myself, of the moments in Phnom Penh when I felt crushingly depressed, alone, and knew somewhere deep down that a life there had to end eventually. That my life rafts were slowly losing air and that some of them had slipped out from underneath me without me even knowing. That twinge that Draper mentions, that we all feel from time to time when reminiscing on past days that we’ve had enough time away from to forget the hurt, will always be there. In time, it’ll becoming a stronger longing and my compass will turn outwards somewhere else from where I am. The wanderlust will kick in. I may or may not listen to that when it arrives, I can’t plan for more than tomorrow these days.
How wonderful though to be able to experience nostalgia. To have owned moments worth remembering, moments strong enough to ignite a spark miles away with the force of a speeding bullet. I am lucky to have had times worthy for nostalgia, some tainted by pain and some purely beautiful, to carry me to the next moment that will eventually become nostalgic as time passes me by.
*take a gander at the video for some laughs, look at the locks on Hamm!