On the topic of "the Good Old Days," I have some semi-strong feelings. I'm as dubious of nostalgia as the next guy, and while I love the process of maturation, I fear and loathe the narrative of "getting old." I have all sorts of fun memories of more free, innocent, wild and irresponsible times. Good times. Fun. Naturally given a more regularized, orderly, and subdued existence memories of pure fun are attractive, but those aren't really what I'd call "the Good Old Days."
What I look back on with envy are the times in my life when I really knew what I wanted, and felt like I was getting it, in both the big and little pictures -- times when it could be reasonably argued that I was, indeed, "living the dream." That's what I'm talking about.
My early 21st-Century dreams may have been unrealistic, hazy, naive and fraught with delusions of grandeur, they were still pretty awesome, and to be perfectly honest I don't feel like my dreams were wrong; I feel as though I failed in bringing them to reality. In spite of my (best?) efforts things didn't work out, and in a series of dark skirmishes over 2003-04 the purest hopes I can go on record as ever possessing were all put to rest.
It can and has been said that I just need to get over it, and in some ways I have, but this is my history. It colors everything I do. It is why I am the man I am. I'm not trying to throw a pity party -- objectively I know I'm lucky, and doing quite well -- but I do wonder why, when talking with my two best friends and finally getting down to a level, I don't have much positive to say for myself.