Live long enough and you will get old. It’s a fact…or, at least, as close to a fact as I can see. If You are like me, You look back on your youth and those days past and most days, You wander in happiness. There are other days, days, like today, where happiness is entwined with a bittersweet longing. I am nearing my half-century mark and (though I believe that I have seventy years left after Wednesday) today is wearing heavy on me.
This coming Saturday, my wife, my best friend, and two other close friends (and maybe my brother-in-law and nephew) will be getting together to end a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have run, since May 2009. I may also throw myself a birthday party. (I started throwing myself birthday parties when I turned 18, because that way I got to do exactly what I wanted and it was done the way I wanted. That said, Christina, my wife, has always gone out of her way to make my birthday special and I’ve not thrown a party for me, since we got together.) Fifty years of living and the end of a long running campaign has gotten me to looking back into the past.
I’ve been trying to find the actual dates for CoastCon in March of 1979, because I’ve been claiming for years that the Sunday following that convention in Biloxi, Mississippi was the first day I played Dungeons and Dragons. I think I was wrong. CoastCon held its first convention at the Buena Vista hotel is 1978. I went on Sunday of that first convention. With that bit of knowledge, Davy couldn’t have gone to CoastCon in 1979, since I went to the 2nd one by myself for the weekend. I must have been 16, when I started D&D and it must have been in 1980. Oh, Well.
All of that is just preamble for what led me to start writing this. I am feeling nostalgic today. I look back at pictures of people I never knew and remember the days when I was young. I remember the days when it was all new. Everything had a sheen on it. I remember being scared. It was all brand new and I was (and often still am) terrified of being laughed at as I weeded my way through new situations…
Things change. It is a part of life. Day rolls into Night. Seasons move steadily from one to the next. That things are different than when I was younger is not the issue with my nostalgic sadness. My sadness stems from the fact that those days can never be experienced again.
I spend much of my time these days watching my granddaughter discover the world. I laugh with delight every time she sees something new and expands her worldview to make that new thing fit. I love going to new conventions and taking Christina to DragonCon in 2006 was as fun as the first time I went so many years ago. Every new person that I teach how to play D&D is a joy in my life. Several years ago, I chose to live in the present; always seeking out new music, new genres of films and books, going to places which I’d never been before, and living as much as possible in world as it is today. Even with all of that, some days I grow sad that life can never be experienced twice. “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on.”
There is something profound which I am failing to say here on this page. I do not seem to have the words to describe why I miss days which I never experienced. I miss the days when my parents first met. I miss the days when my in-laws eloped to South Carolina. I miss the days when Nana and Papa were young and couldn’t go off Keesler Air Force Base, because Papa had been scheduled to ship out within the week. I miss the days when Warm Springs, Georgia and Tallulah Falls, Georgia were happening places. I miss the Sunday where Uncle Dale forgot to take up the Tithes and Offerings and his Uncle Fred called out to him at the end of the service that he “forgot to pass the plate.” I miss the days when my parents were children and everything was new to them.
I miss the days, because we will always have them, but can never live them again.