The intersect of the future and the past

Is it a time of nostalgia? Or are we trying to make sense of history? Are we fed up with what we see around us so we go looking for what made us happy in the past? Or what we thought would make us happy. Are we living in an age that seems too churlish and we want to find a more comfortable spot? Maybe that spot is in our past or maybe in someone else’s.

Maybe it’s because I have been caught up in history of my own place and thus more aware, but it seems that I keep turning up stories of times passed. Going back and looking at what WAS and how it affects what IS. Memories of events, places, people. Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert is making headlines again by bringing out a new edition of her great-grandmother’s cookbook. Originally published in 1947, the cookbook by Margaret Yardley Potter is getting a new life with some input of Ms. Gilbert and her own success. Ms. Gilbert finds the writing within At Home on the Range as compelling as the recipes her great-grandmother cooked, recipes that were unusual for the period.

University of Mississippi alumnus Page Williams writes in the May issue of O Magazine about a tragedy that happened in 1986 involving her sorority sisters. There are photos of then and now, with the bulk of the story taking place at the time of the terrible accident that killed five of the girls. Ms. Williams is trying to make sense of a moment in time that changed the lives of all those involved by tracking down the survivors to see how they have survived.

And then there is the book, The Girls from Ames, that has been my bedside reading for the past couple of weeks. Here are eleven girls who grew up together from cradle roll at the church to graduation from the high school and have remained friends for 30+ years. Now in their late 40s, they have allowed journalist Jeffrey Zaslow to enter into their lives and long-distance friendship. The story begins at a reunion of the girls and then bounces around from their time together at school, through romances and jobs and family, growing up, growing older, and their interaction with one another during their time together. Although unique to them, the girls’ story resonates with all of us who grew up with a set of friends or are part of a group of friends, who have stayed close over the years. I reflect on their story as I work on the Allied Arts Girls’ story.  What are the dynamics in a group of women who were young together and are now old? It is a question I am pondering and hope to come up with an answer that will work in the story I am telling.

So, why all this sudden interest in past times, relationships, events? Has there always been these kinds of books and stories out there but I was not in a place for them to capture my interest? Is it because the Allied Arts Girls’ story has been thrust into my life and I can’t get them out of my mind so that I see similar stories wherever I look? Or, are people really seeking to know about the past? Sort of like the renewed interest in Titanic. Even though we know the ending, we still want to hear the story again. Perhaps to play it against our own story.


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