Our former selves

1 minute read

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.