My dad and I didn’t spend much time together when I was a little girl. One Christmas he showed up with a box full of gifts maybe as a way to compensate for those long absences. Inside that box was a little battery powered dog that would bark on command. I let it bark for a few days but then shoved it on a shelf where it collected dust for the next several years. There was nothing special about the dog until I moved to Italy.
When you move to a foreign country, there is an initial euphoria that, often, gradually transforms itself into a kind of hostility towards the new environment—the you you’ve always been is not compatible with the changed surroundings. Your way of dressing, eating, drying your clothes or decorating your home suddenly becomes “out of place”. Defense mechanisms are activated and nostalgia for the old competes with desire for the new. It was during one of these periods of Nostalgia for What Never Existed that I brought Daddy’s Dog to Italy.
The word “nostalgia” comes from the Greek νόστος (which means homecoming) and ἄλγος (which means pain). In other words, nostalgia is simply a yearning for home that surfaces when we feel needy or insecure. But home is not always a place. Sometimes it’s a state of mind. And the feeling that it’s okay for you to be you.
Luckily, I am no longer burdened by nostalgia. Having Daddy’s Dog in my studio reminds me that memories are, in part, fiction since we have a tendency to romanticize the past. So it’s best to focus on today. You know, Be Here Now.
Photo by Chiara Pilar