Eternal Sunshine of the Not-So-Spotless Mind: A Reflection of Nostalgia During the Spring

A collection of personal anecdotes, assembling the image of spring and childhood.


Sidney Lin

My grandparents walk hand-in-hand with my younger brother, enjoying a breezy spring day in the early 2010’s.

You can’t help but take in a deep breath when the trees are finally green again. It’s a rare, yet perfect feeling when you give thanks that you can momentarily bid farewell to your good friend, the classic puffer jacket. It seems to recognize that it’s out of its prime, and lumbers to the back of the closet like an old dog, resigning about the next seven months or so, right when the frigid New York cold and biting wind are ready to come back.

The springing of new life from the grounds below us has led the season of spring to become synonymous with this kind of novelty no other season has. However, for many, myself included, one particular thing springs forth even more prominently than the flowers during this season: an almost overbearing sense of nostalgia. While this sense of reminiscing is often common to almost every day of the year for me, spring especially is a time in which memories seem to wash over me. In fact, when I think back on memories from my childhood or simply catch myself saying, “Hey, do you remember when-” those memories always seem centered around this particular transitional season. Amidst the bustle of spring cleaning, there seems to be an innate urge to look through not only the dusty items of the house, but of my mind as well.

So, what exactly does this phenomenon call to mind?

“For me, spring is Easter egg hunts,” said Willa Nawaday ’25.“Every Easter when I was little, we would visit my grandparents and go to the park that was just right across the street. Everyone would join in, I would be in my Easter dress, and as soon as someone yelled ‘Go!’ all the little kids would just speed off, stumbling over themselves for the eggs.”

Here is a squadron of sand castles, circa early April 2013. (Sidney Lin)

Over multiple spring break vacations, my family would visit one particular resort surrounded by the beach. Carefully, we would pack each mixture of sand and salt water into the same pale green mold, set it down, say a prayer that it stayed up, and voila! More often than not, we would be left with a useless, goopy pile of sand – but it only made the towers left standing look even more majestic. These castles were not left unadorned, however. Whenever we would visit the diner nearby, we would collect the tiny flags that came out alongside our burgers. At the resort, the tiny white banners were given a new life — no longer for holding burgers together, but instead acting as an emblem of our miniature sandy kingdom.

Spring is also a reminder of collecting seashells with my dad. While my collection contains shells from countless different beaches, and a number of different trips throughout my life, one particular memory of shell hunting over spring break stands out. In calm water, just about calf-deep, we scoured the sandy floor. I had already gathered more than enough basic, tiny, white shells – we were set out for real treasure. Even in my memory, the sun is strikingly bright, such that I almost can’t see a thing. But, I am still able to make out the smile and the enamored look on my dad’s face as he holds up a shell larger than I had ever received before.

Even now, I have the Ziploc bag filled with shells, even containing some-ten year old remnants of sand at the bottom. Written with shaky hands and a black sharpie, poor quality third grade cursive letters still spell out my name right on the front.

Spring is a reminder of frozen yogurt, too. During various spring months over the years, my mom would bring my little brother, my younger cousin, and I to the Vanilla Sky frozen yogurt shop near our house, on occasion with my grandmother as well. Those bright blue walls and each small white table became the epitome of comfort. My brother would always beg to pile on toppings, while I myself appreciated the simple addition of gummy bears to my treat.

Of all of my spring memories, I remember most keenly the spring of 2015, during second grade. The girls of my class had formed our own elusive club of sorts that would meet every day during lunchtime. A sparkly notebook was passed between us each day, and filled with imagined “inventions” of our own. Then, at the very corner of the playground, we would sit in circles and get to construction, equipped with only handfuls of leaves and the tiny pebbles that lay on the schoolyard beneath our feet. Back then, the worst problem we had been exposed to was the injustice of how little time we had for recess. I still precisely remember the creatively named “Dirt Vending Machine!” that one classmate had carefully scrawled into the book, designed with the imagination of turning playground dirt into sweet snacks. Somehow, we were so sure we could bring it to life. Many of those friends have long since moved hours away, surely thinking nothing of their days on a dirty schoolyard floor. Much like those who once scribbled down in it, I do not know where that notebook is now either.

Even in its symbolism of new beginnings, spring was keenly ritualistic. Despite these specific moments or days in my memories that I can pinpoint and recite detail for detail, there were  certain practices I kept up every spring that held a certain sanctity just in staying consistently the same.

As a kid, spring always meant being surrounded by nature, from exploring parks, to simply enjoying a day laying in the grass. (Christine Chong-Lin)

For example, almost every spring through the entirety of elementary school, I would spend at least one full day visiting Central Park with my grandparents and my little brother. Our routine stayed almost exactly the same each time: we would walk out of my grandparent’s apartment, make our way to McDonald’s for fries, and wander around the greenery of the parks. My grandfather would buy us both ice cream, always the red white and blue popsicle for me and the Spongebob-shaped bar for my brother. Even while so simple in nature, this fixed program of habits could not be beat. 

More than just a core memory of the springtime, these days remain a core memory of what being a young kid felt like. The red and blue popsicle stain on my tongue, the feeling of a little dirt still on my knees, and the smell of bubble solution are almost eerily as clear as if I were looking at my childhood from the other side of a glass pane.

Teresa Tan ’25 has similarly fond memories of comfortingly precise spring routines. “For me, spring is icees. When I was younger, every single spring day before going to the park, I would stop to buy an icee at this little corner store nearby. The same exact icee every single time, at the same time every day. The store owners would even recognize me because I went there so often. To be honest, I don’t think they were always happy, because I always ended up wiping out their already limited supply of that stuff. But either way, those days in spring still hold a special place for me,” said Tan. 

Above all, spring is looking back on these moments. It means being able to share laughter with yourself when you reminisce, and oftentimes, more than a tad bit of melancholy too. The Vanilla Sky frozen yogurt has long since closed, and as my uncle pointed out relatively recently, I may very well only have a few family spring break trips left as a kid, before adulthood and college sweep me off my feet. And while still standing strong against the tests of time, my grandparents haven’t been able to take us to Central Park in years.

But, on the rarest of occasions, a select few things have managed to hang on this far. For example, every April – without fail – my mother will insist that my brother and I take a photo in front of the cherry blossom trees that bloom right near our block solely during the spring. When I used to groan at this tradition, she would have only one response: “It’s for posterity!”

Cherry blossoms like these line the blocks near my home, and are continually a welcome reminder that spring has come every year, even despite their short-lived beauty.
(Sidney Lin)

Back then, that never did stop me from grumbling. But since then, I think I do get it. While I clearly have no posterity as of now to thank her for these photos, I am convinced that being able to look back on them myself means more to me than ever to anyone who will come after me. And as dramatic as it is to say for someone who hasn’t yet completed even a quarter of her life, looking back on who I was during the springs of years past oftentimes can feel like looking into the eyes of a completely different generation.

Ironically enough though, an appreciation of spring cherry blossoms in Japanese culture has become intertwined with a celebration of life’s impermanence. Because these blooms are characterized by only living for up to a mere two weeks, they have grown into a valuable symbol of how little time our own lives take up in the grand scheme of the world, the fleeting nature of our experiences, and most fundamentally – how nothing lasts forever. 

As I grow older, the springs only seem to be getting impossibly shorter and shorter. One day, a day that seems to be getting closer and closer, I may live in a place where there isn’t a single cherry blossom around. One day, walking into my grandparents’ apartment may mean walking into space that a stranger has already made their own. On that day, I probably wouldn’t even be able to tell you the color of my elementary school walls.

But, time simply can’t just stop or give us a breather to hang on these things. Once the seasons change, my experiences will march on, from summer preparation for the fall SAT to continuing summer internships. Sometimes, it can be the most difficult task in the world to be able to commit ourselves to our new beginnings, especially when we feel that we haven’t had nearly enough time to linger on our old ones. The season of spring is a built in, calendar-marked, plot of time, reserved just for that. 

For me, it is difficult to even process the fact that come next season when summer hits, I will have already finished two years at Bronx Science. One half of my entire high school experience  will already be over. Moreover, dreaded, yet exciting new things alike will come crashing in, regardless of how little time I can seem to focus on the future, especially when my mind is stuck in the past. But, maybe we can each choose to be a glass-half-full kind of person. After all, every one of these experiences that I speak so dearly about are all contained within less than a decade. Who is to say but my future self what the next ones will have in store?

All we can do is take the springtime as it is and revel in it for however long it graces us as we grow older. So when you do step outside, see that the trees are green again (without the bulky layers of jackets and sweaters)  and hopefully you can smile as you look in from the other side of your own nostalgia.

The springing of new life from the grounds below us has led the season of spring to become synonymous with this kind of novelty no other season has. However, for many, myself included, one particular thing springs forth even more prominently than the flowers during this season: an almost overbearing sense of nostalgia.