I subscribe to the Lenny newsletter (you should too!) and this interview with the creator of 90s cult beauty brand Hard Candy was featured earlier this week, sending me down a Proustian rabbit hole:

The shades, with names like Sky, Violet, and Coconut, were a big part of the pastel craze that enveloped the ’90s. It makes sense, then, that it was Alicia Silverstone, our patron saint of ’90s nostalgia, who helped make the brand a household name when in 1995 she appeared on the David Letterman show sporting Hard Candy’s pale-blue Sky on her toes (of course Letterman noticed, and of course he commented). The rest is beauty history.

I read that paragraph and thought to myself, “I remember watching that interview,” back during summer break when my brother and I would stay up and watch MTV and Letterman and reruns of M*A*S*H.  And suddenly this wave of nostalgia rolled in, the kind of nostalgia that old people have, the kind I didn’t really feel until right that second–the kind that sincerely thinks, “Those days were better days than these.”

High school wasn’t fun for me–I didn’t come into my own as a person until college. But summers off in high school, before I had a job, before emotional complexity and social media and global warming?  Those days were better than these. 

The Cold War was over. The “war on terror” had yet to begin. You could meet people at their gate in the airport. The internet was this amazing new thing, feminist lady rockers were all over MTV, and the only thing I had to worry about was practicing my violin enough. (And whether anyone would notice my sky blue toenails, because of course I begged my mom to buy me some Hard Candy.)

Days before “sponsored content” and the 24 hour news cycle, when you would wait for the latest  Tweeds or J. Peterman or J. Crew catalogs. Days when I’d type little stories and make tea in the afternoons and check my email at night (“You’ve got mail!”) and open up Windows 95 to write some more. Those days were better than these. 

Maybe it just seems like a simpler, more innocent time because I was more innocent and had a simpler life.  Maybe that’s the true root of all nostalgia.

Because (global warming aside) we’ve made a lot of progress in 20 years:  There’s marriage equality. AIDS isn’t a death sentence. Texting is the best communication method ever invented for introverts. And lots of drugstores now sell sky-blue nail polish, so when you get hit with your first real adult nostalgia, you can go buy some and put pictures of your feet on the internet: