Our former selves

As anyone who’s been to Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids probably knows, I’m fascinated by the relationships we have with our former selves. Most often, when a person gets up on stage to read juvenilia at GRTTWaK, there’s a distance. A distance between who they were, and who they are now. At a really basic level, I think that’s the tension that makes a GRTTWaK reading funny, or uncomfortable, or bittersweet.

And it’s a big part of what I love about Chino Otsuka’s photo series Imagine Finding Me. In it, Otsuka takes old family snapshots, and pastes in present-day versions of herself:

1976 + 2005, Japan

1976 + 2005, Japan

I first saw Otsuka’s work in Glenn Fleishman’s Glenn’s Gumbo newsletter.

Speaking of Glenn’s newsletter and nostalgia, here’s a lovely excerpt from earlier this month:

My friend Leah used the word saudade from the Portuguese recently. Wikipedia has a surprisingly lyrical definition:

It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.

I don’t know Portuguese, but I wonder if it’s possible to feel saudade for a younger version of yourself. Because deep down, I suspect there’s a fair amount of that blowing around at GRTTWaK, too.