After uncovering a childhood time capsule, Randi Bergman taps into the magical nostalgia of her youth–and the confident, wide-eyed optimist she had in the 90s.
By Randi Bergman
“The nineties have no particular style… They’re just the seventies, but different” is a very real thought I once had as a child in 1998. I was likely wearing spandex bell bottoms, and fresh out of a showing of the disco classic, 54. What the fuck did I know?
Well, as it turns out, a little bit about the phenomena of nostalgia.
Almost twenty years later, I’m reliving my youth care of a time capsule I made that year, that’s turned into an Instagram account, a podcast, and my 24/7 headspace. Inside the capsule, I found Spice Girls-branded lollipops, movie stubs and newspaper clippings from any time the Backstreet Boys or Titanic were mentioned. I also found an oddly prophetic trend report, signaling my future as a fashion writer/editor, (though I didn’t know it at the time–I was mostly just collaging from Delia*s catalogues).
I found countless diary entries and letters to myself, which reminded me of the person I used to be: positive, hopeful, and confident to the point of delusion—life’s hard knocks were still in the distant future. One of the letters closes off with the following line: “I love you! (Myself) always remember “Girl Power” “Who’s she?” “I’m me!” “Future Is Female” PEACE.”
Talk about a kick in the ass from beyond.
Back when I created the time capsule, I knew I was destined for greatness (as evidenced by the meticulous attention to detail and overall “I’m obsessed with myself” vibes). I hadn’t decided on a life course, but I knew that whatever it was, it would be great.
Fast-forward to 30-something me, unhappily stuck in a monotonous day job that I’d once fantasized about, my confidence totally out of whack. I got deep into the throws of ‘90s nostalgia, escaping my grind by live-tweeting old episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210. I had no idea what I wanted, but I knew it wasn’t where I was at. I hadn’t yet put it together, but looking back would be the only way I’d move forward.
I started putting that longing to use. I went back into my old closet and started re-wearing ole faithfuls like a screen print floral pastel dress circa Bar Mitzvah season ’96, a Guess polo zip up my mom bought me in L.A., and countless Victoria Secret slip dresses that I added to the mix. I suddenly felt like my old, tiny self: ready to take on the world.
If nostalgia is a cocktail of half-truths—memory blurred by the warm and fuzzies, mixed with a bittersweet twinge—and today we’re drunk off it. We crave what we once had. Hell, we even crave what we never had. We like to blur the lines and create our own realities. And we can’t help but retell stories with distorted points of view. (Case in point: the Guess polo zip up doesn’t even fit.)
Nostalgia has been felt for as long as I can remember (from my v. groovy orange, chartreuse and yellow Bat Mitzvah color scheme and flower power balloons, to the Back to The Future trilogy the down to today’s political climate). But like everything else in the digital age, its effects have been magnified, with every corner of our youth brought to the surface and explored. Vague memories no longer exist—they’ve been documented, examined and made into listicles. And sure, maybe it’s veering towards done-to-death territory, but I’m here for constantly swimming in the wide-eyed positivity that emitted from a 13-year-old me.