The Nostalgia Effect

The adorable side of indulging in nostalgia: seeing Fennec foxes at Honolulu Zoo PAIGE TAKEYA PHOTO

The adorable side of indulging in nostalgia: seeing Fennec foxes at Honolulu Zoo PAIGE TAKEYA PHOTO

Nostalgia is the fuel of modern life. It’s the literal, actual reason why something like Fuller House exists — an abomination of a show by every account that hopes to coast by on fond memories alone.

But sometimes it’s nice to look back on something you loved as a child to see how your feelings have (or haven’t) changed over the course of 20 years.

Anyway, that’s how I persuaded my boyfriend that we should go to Honolulu Zoo one sunny afternoon.

The zoo is … different when you’re an adult with no children. You can take the time to read the informative exhibit signs. You have the patience to stare long into the abyss of the cheetah exhibit to find the elusive cats (I still, to this day, have never actually seen a cheetah at the zoo. The cage could be empty, and no one would ever know). You can stroll slowly and methodically, and not skip any exhibits.

As a little kid, I very much adored animals (as we all do), though my special love was reserved for carnivorous predators: lions, eagles, wolves, etc. No deer or bunnies for me. And as an adult, I still like seeing the Hawaiian hawk, the Sumatran tiger and the little Fennec foxes. That sense of wonder has not gone away.

I got lucky that Saturday because nearly all the animals were sitting in visible spots (except for the damned cheetahs). The male lion was sleeping right in front of the window of his exhibit. I’ve never seen one so close before.

But visiting the zoo is sadder now because as I’ve gotten older, so have the animals. Felix the serval cat has a sign next to his cage asking visitors not to worry that he limps — he’s just very old.

It reminds me of Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo on Hawaii island. Seventeen years ago, the zoo got an 8-month-old white Bengal tiger. My grandma sent me the newspaper articles printed about him at the time, knowing my love of big cats. He would romp around his massive enclosure enthusiastically, though I most frequently ended up seeing him napping in the shade.

But two years ago, he was euthanized, and when I visited the zoo last year, his pen was still unoccupied. It filled me with a disquieting sense of memento mori, standing in front of the empty pit in the mostly empty zoo.

Nostalgia isn’t always nice.

After all, Netflix recently announced they’re making a second season of Fuller House.

Paige’s Pick of the Week:

We Bare Bears

It’s a cartoon about three anthropomorphic bears — Grizzly, Panda and Ice Bear — who live together and have hilarious adventures about trying to interact with people. Each episode is 11 minutes of happiness. Ice Bear is the best. Just watch it! (