One of the stranger things about the variety of media available to us in this, our digital era, is the ways in which you can find objects of utter nostalgia without meaning to. Simply scrolling through Netflix or HBO Max, or Spotify, or whatever, it’s all too easy to discover that movie or that song that meant so much to you at one point in your life and be flooded by the feelings that surrounding you at the time. It’s a strangely passive form of nostalgia-seeking, in that it’s not the same as going through old photographs or even record collections, yet the end result can be exactly identical.
I’m thinking of this because I was looking for something in DC Universe Infinite of all things — the digital comics subscription service for, unsurprisingly, DC comics — and came across an Aquaman cover from the mid-1990s, and found myself nearly overwhelmed with the memory of a comic shop where I’d bought that particular issue, despite not having thought about the place since… well, probably since I bought that issue, almost three decades ago. (On a related note, I am old. Three decades? Jesus.)
It’s a strange thing to remember, not least of all because it feels so very removed from my day-to-day existence today. I don’t just mean that in the sense of, I don’t buy many Peter David comics these days, but in the sense of… well, almost missing the feeling of being able to wander into stores and browse, if that makes sense. We’re approaching the two-year mark of COVID lockdown next month, and with the exception of a very limited number of non-grocery store trips, it’s not as if I’ve been into many (any) stores during that time.
There’s a whole process of discovery and love of ambiguity and not knowing exactly what I’m doing every time I step out the door that is entirely missing from my life these days, and it’s an absence that I feel on a deep level more and more. Accidentally stumbling into nostalgia via streaming services is a poor substitute, but at least it’s what’s available.