I’m an old fashioned relic cast adrift in the ocean of time… A lonely sundial stuck in the shadows of Apple watches… An analogue dinosaur lost in a digital jungle. Whilst most invested in a wife, mortgage and 2.4 kids; dial-up, pagers and the dotcom boom, I sunk all my savings from a 20s spent wondering aimlessly from dead end job to dead end job into a video store. My dream was born out of a childhood spent secretly serenaded by my father’s vinyl collection when he went to sleep; an adolescence consumed by Atari games I had to work every weekend to afford; a young adulthood captivated by VHS films I had to scour every store in Brighton to find. With such good times emblazoned in my fondest thoughts, I practically wept when the opportunity came when I could finally weave those same beautiful memories into my own inclusive paradise of the vinyl’s, cartridges and VHS’s of my youth and give them a home where others to could bask in their glory.
For the first few years I was staring at a silver lining, stood on top of cloud nine in the middle of heaven; life had become pure bliss without a blemish in sight. The store was a lighthouse, a beckon in the dark with welcoming rays ushering all lost souls to the home I had built. I didn’t know what most of them did for a living, if they had wives or what cars they drove… but I still felt like I knew them better than anyone else had ever known them before; I knew what songs they sang to and what films they laughed to and if that’s not knowing someone, then I guess I have never truly known anyone before.
In the early days when Amazon was just a river in South America, the money rolled in, enough so I could travel the world twice over, but I didn’t. No midnight strolls in Paris, gondola tours in Venice or bike rides in Amsterdam, instead I kept my feet firmly planted in the store and spent the profits investing in Presley records, Spielberg films and Pacman games and the guys who came to the store noticed that and respected me even more for it – I was their hero.
However, the grains of time had begun to fall through my fingers faster than I could ever hope to hold on to them. Technology was quickly changing, evolving with each passing day yet I was too busy enjoying myself to notice. My friends tried to warn me about this thing called the internet, but I simply didn’t believe this boy cried wolf story… In my mind and heart, I always thought and felt people would always want something they could physically see, hold and connect with. In my mind and heart, art was supposed to be experienced, not merely consumed for nothing. In my mind and heart, you simply couldn’t condense magic into pixels on a screen, algorithms and 1s and 0s… But the mind can be tricked and the heart shattered…
Usually the store was a revolving door of new faces, each with their own unique stories to be told and tastes satisfied. Then the millennial ball hit 0 with the force needed to set off a destructive domino effect in my perfectly curated world. No longer were there no new faces, instead I just kept seeing the same old noses, eyes and ears I had seen plenty of times previously and even before they could open their mouths, I already knew what they wanted because they had asked for it a week earlier and the week before that. Then even those old faces began to drift into a distant memory, leaving nothing but the carcass of a ghost town in their wake.
With no costumers to speak of, I finally found the time to invest in that mortgage and wife, I meet her at a 50s appreciation night. But while nostalgia was a one-night whim for Barbra, to me it was an everyday torment. My life with Barbra was amazing! She made the ‘now’ romantic and exciting -something that once felt so foreign, felt so right with her. Our life together was great, occasionally even perfect but in the back of my mind not a day would go by that I wouldn’t yarn for yesteryear; I miss the dependable days of two channels instead of being swept up in the chaos of demand TV. I miss the dependability of paying with cash instead of contactless swipes of cards coupled with the fear of theft. I miss picking up a phone and hearing the warm sound of someone’s voice instead of the cold sight of letters on a screen… I miss, I miss, I miss a time when life was simple.
Barbra had finally had in enough of playing second fiddle to my nostalgia, she finally gave me the ultimatum, “let go of the past and embrace the future or ignore reality and cling on to an expired memory?”. I couldn’t bear watching her heartbreak any longer, so I did the right thing and left – you probably think I’m an idiot for deserting a chance at real happiness. But it wouldn’t have been fair for myself or her to have my body and mind in one place and my heart in a different era.
I crawled back to the confines of my shop. I locked the door behind me and re-watched all the spaghetti westerns, re-listened to all the Motown records and replayed all the Donkey Kong levels again and again until the pendulums of time swung back the other way – the right way.