Back to Berkeley- Meditations on a Lost Childhood in the 1930s

There’s a good chance I may be visiting Berkeley while I’m down in San Jose.  A friend from one of the reincarnation forums I post on may help me get there.

I’m both excited and a bit nervous.  This will be my first time knowingly walking into places where I had a previous life.  It was weird enough being in places I knew without realizing why I felt so strange, but this will really open the flood gates.

I’ve been listening to music from the 30s and 40s a lot lately, and feeling homesick for those times more than the turbulent 60s and 70s as the day draws near.  Admittedly, my previous life’s identity as a child of the 1930s is downplayed because he was always so much with or ahead of his times, but all his life- and well into this life- I have always had a profound nostalgia for the period between 1935 and 1941.

I think the nostalgia was helped along in this life by the TV show “TaleSpin,” which debuted around the time I was 5 years old and by “The Rocketeer,” which debuted around the same time.  I also spent a lot of time in antique stores and auction houses as a child, where I saw art deco radios, vintage toys, and old furniture proudly displayed.  I think this is why my work ended up taking a dieselpunk trajectory in this life rather than starting out with space operas like Phil did (as space opera was pretty passe by 1989-92, when I was around the same age I discovered science fiction in my previous life).

Something about the timing of my exposure to the aesthetics of the early 20th century probably planted the seed in my mind that I had lived in those times.

I remember once playing with a friend around age 9 at living in the year 1938.  I stuck a piece of paper on top of a framed cross-stitch I had been given with my birth date on it, modified to say 1928 instead of 1984, and put up a replica 1938 calendar I had (1994 dates coincided with 1938 dates).  I think we may have used some other items too, random old odds and ends that I had from antique stores and auction houses.  In hindsight this makes a lot of sense; I would have been 9 years old in 1938.  That was also the year I moved to Berkeley from D.C. so it was a big year in my life that I would want to remember.

Now that I think about it, I also remember when I was about 7 fantasizing that I was actually from the 1930s, and had traveled to the 1990s in a time machine, and in truth I half-believed it and told others that I didn’t think I belonged in the present, which led to a lot of ridicule.  In hindsight, so much of my childhood was marked by a persistent feeling of being displaced from the proper time period.

Now, as an adult, I long for more complete memories of that childhood, and the teen years I spent in the more Bohemian circles of Berkeley.  I want to remember clearly what I saw “through a glass darkly” when I was young in this life.  I want to remember what it was like before all the marriages and divorces and the banal but troubled adulthood in the 60s and 70s that is pressed so firmly into my memory.  I know those memories are there because I re-enacted those years when I was a child in this life, even if I had no idea what I was re-enacting or why these weird ideas that I was living in the wrong decade entered my head.

I want to remember… I hope I find what I’m looking for in Berkeley in a couple of weeks.

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