A Tendency Toward Nostalgia

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When I was in sixth grade, my new English teacher gave us an assignment to create an acrostic from our first name; each letter was meant to be an adjective describing ourselves for the class. I don’t recall what I chose for three of the letters, but I remember being especially challenged by the “N.” When I mentioned to my teacher that I was thinking of using “nostalgic,” she chided me that someone my age most certainly could not be nostalgic. I felt belittled and foolish, and despite my reservations, I wrote, simply—boringly—“neat.”

It’s funny what stays with us over time. I never forgot this episode from middle school, and I occasionally wonder, why? Mostly I think it was a lesson to go with my gut. Even then I knew that I was right, and that I should have written “nostalgic” on that paper; I have long prided myself in the years since as someone who trusts my instincts almost to a fault. 

When I consider this memory alongside another one that stuck with me—a minor event that made a big impression—I am sure, too, that it reflects a real dread of having missed opportunities. A time when I didn’t act, or didn’t follow my gut, is a bad thing in my mind. I never want to miss out on something because I was scared or lazy or simply didn’t act quickly enough.

Today, though, I remembered this incident for a different reason. In cleaning out a cabinet to make room for some of my son’s Christmas loot, I came across an old-fashioned photo album that I had put together when I was about 14. It is a small, linen-covered album. Each page is separated by a thin sheet of textured tissue paper, making turning the pages feel like you are unveiling something precious. And indeed, even as a teenager, I knew how precious the photos within were.

 a family photo from my old family photo album

I had bought the book with my babysitting money, and collected the photos from my mom’s and grandmother’s messy boxes. It seemed important to me to curate the images carefully, to select those that were visually appealing and that captured moments in our lives that we would one day want to recollect. 

All these years later, it is a serendipitous pleasure to rediscover the images I chose. They are not displayed chronologically or thematically, but all together they do convey a loose story of sorts, a story of the everyday joys of our close-knit family.

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These days I spend my time helping people not only to curate their family photos, but to discover and capture the stories behind them. To preserve the memories in a way that is both visually compelling and that strikes an emotional chord

 another family photo from the album I created as a teenager

It is heartening to know that the nostalgia I have long felt serves a purpose—and that, in my unexpected role as entrepreneur, I am following a path that is not only central to who I am, but is wonderfully, enchantingly restorative.

 photo of my grandfather in family photo album

It is a privilege that I get to hear your stories, and to capture them for posterity. If you are interested in beginning such a journey with me, please reach out to see how we can work together to create a family heirloom that will encourage story sharing for years to come!

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