Street View Nostalgia

Life is strange.

I sometimes feel that I am in total control of things. Emotions, work, hobbies, so many things to do, so little time to even think. But I need to rest, I feel tired! There it goes my weekend. It’s funny how things move, pretty much in auto-pilot, at least that is how I feel and before you say it, no I am not saying that I don’t like my life or I want a big change, not at all. I love my life, my son, my wife. I just wanted to share some thoughts I had after a quite interesting experience.

I turned 40 this year. Nothing really changed for me, well, that is kind of true and somewhat not. I feel that mentally I am the same, physically, a bit out of shape (at least I believe). Overall, I haven’t noticed much difference from when I was 20. Here’s the thing, however, nothing seems to change when your context is today. If you change the point of reference, things do change quite a lot.

Here’s what happened to me. I saw this photo on social media. It was a house for sale at the beach I grew up going to in summer in Southern Brazil. It was a magical place, I made friends, surfed a lot, experienced all the adolescent things that helped shape who I am today. I forgot about it until I saw that photo today. It was of a house I knew, and I saw the street with the pebbles, the colors of the grass. It was the most vivid trip down memory lane. A brief one though, I was just wishing it could be longer. That’s when one idea came to my mind, Google StreetView. Technology has never been so amazing than traveling back to the same route I grew up doing. Starting from the highway that led to the beach. The feelings came back. 

That first turn when we used to try to see if the waves were good, is it big? It looks small!. It was too quick, I couldn’t see it - we used to say. The growing anxiety of seeing the ocean. What about the wind, is it cold outside?  And we kept going. Turning the roundabout. The old Stadium is still there. The same question came to my mind - “what the hell do they do there?” It was the same as 30 years ago - I moved forward on Street View. The places we used to go to buy groceries. Some are still there, same painting, same thing as if some things really do stand in time. There was also surprise of seeing things that changed. Turning to our old street, the shop at the corner is still the same. That made me feel good. Houses, the street with potholes, the bocci court. Everything feels like yesterday, feels like when I used to walk alone at 4 am from the little bar back home and start the weekend. So many memories, walking on the beach to go surfing. The pier, the shower, the waves. The ocean is old and wise, it has seen it all, I got nostalgic, perhaps trying to feel wise, wiser than I really am.

For a minute I had that squeeze in my chest, as if I was there. Everything feels familiar but a lot has changed. The biggest one, my father, he is not here anymore. Things are not complete or not as complete as they used to be, that filled my eyes with tears and brought me back to reality. For a moment I wished I could for one more time, be there, live that again. I then realized that everything moves, everything changes, we all come and go, that’s the norm, the natural evolution of life. Everything but the memories of a beautiful time. That will never change and the thought of that made me feel better. But boy do I still miss my dad. 

At least I am happy, I know that I am lucky to be able to feel this way, because life, despite the ups and downs, has been amazing to me. If for some reason, I could still go back in time to those days, it would not be the same, it would be today it would be just another thing like the tons of things that happen every day. I closed the browser tab and look around. Nothing new, nothing really out of the ordinary, not yet - I mentally thought. It’s impossible to see that now, I know that one day, perhaps I look back, I can see the Bay Bridge, the Ferry Building and all the newer old memories come back. Until then I will keep thinking that I’m in control of things.

This post is part of a series of articles I will be posting on the blog that are not about design per se, but rather thoughts and ideas I have and want to share.

Written by

Abduzeedo

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.

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