Back when I was just a kindergartner, I often recall at the end of the day getting off the school bus on the corner of my neighborhood and walking in the opposite direction of my house. Both of my parents worked at the time, and a good family friend of ours happened to be a few years older than me and was more than willing to entertain me until my parents’ shifts were over. While the memories are over a decade ago, I vividly retain images of me sitting down in her living room watching the Nickelodeon classics iCarly or Drake and Josh for hours on end. But what I remember the most was when my neighbor laid out stacks of printer paper alongside packs of scented markers. Strawberry, Lemon Lime, Blueberry, and most coveted of all, Toasted Marshmallow, would seemingly come to life as they were pressed into the paper and wafted over the room in an aroma of decadent perfumes. I don’t even remember what exactly I would draw with these markers, but I remember pressing them deep into the paper, and then bringing it up to my nose as I took a big inhale and was transported to whatever place smell can take a person.
It’s not like scented markers are some unattainable gem that has evaded my ever longing quest since those early memories. A simple Google search would show that a ten pack of Crayola scented markers are as cheap as two dollars. I’m sure we’ve all had those precariously special items of nostalgia: Pokemon cards, Heelys, Razor Scooters, or whatever other anecdotal medallion you’ve bolstered an attachment towards. And that’s the beautiful element of human nature, that we can appraise certain mundane objects and experiences into something much more meaningful. I don’t know why scented markers bring me so much joy. Maybe it’s purely just the olfactory sensation the oils spew into the air, or perhaps it reminds me of a time that was much more simple. Whatever it is, scented markers hold a special place in my heart, and it’s sonder to think about how everyone has that same warm feeling about their unique token of nostalgia. Romanticism brings out the joy in life, and it’s time we start romanticizing even the ‘boring stuff’ that’s not actually all so boring.
The word ‘romanticism’ originally came from the derivation, “Of the Roman style,” and came to become associated with medieval tales of knightly chivalry, later including love stories. It wasn’t until the 18th century however that romanticism would become a major artistic movement, infusing art, music, and literature with the emotional cores of adventure and love. Today, those principles still hold relatively true even in our drastically altered and digital society. While the works of Shakespeare told the affectionate stories of Romeo and Juliet or the dramatic tales of Hamlet, is that so far from the distant fantasies of social media that have become ever so ubiquitous? Reels of partying and picture-esque lifestyles are constantly fed to us through our screens, it’s no wonder why many of us inevitably feel we aren’t living up to a standard of a fulfilling or exciting life.
This isn’t to say romanticism is entirely corruptive, but rather to point out how when we begin to romanticize other people’s lives rather than our own it can feel alienating and discouraging. As I’ve mentioned previously, it doesn’t take extravagant items or getaways for them to be perceived as valuable. Often, when we can open our eyes to the everyday joys of the world, we realize that we’re not missing out on anything, but surrounded by a world that has so much to offer constantly. And that’s what I think romanization can be boiled down to: falling in love with the world. I know the world has an endless amount of things to worry about; I’m sure we’re still well aware that a live pandemic still lives among many of the crises we’re yet to solve. But to fall in love with the world isn’t to be ignorant of reality, rather it is to feel your mind and body absolve into the present around you. To me, falling in love with the world is simply going through the motions of the day with intention, to enjoy the simple moments with the good company alongside me.
Romanization can seem like we’re disillusioned from the real world, that we are being excessively colorful in a world that is black and white. Yet, haven’t we always felt the world needs more color? New York Times bestselling author John Green in his most recent book, The Anthropocene Reviewed, is quoted saying, “From quarks to the supernova, the wonders do not cease. It is our attentiveness that is in short supply, our ability and willingness to do the work that awe requires.” It’s that capacity for wonder, that humans are so cognitively complex that we can synthesize and notice the beauty of the world that makes there always something more to discover. ‘Romanticizing the Boring Stuff,’ is admittedly a flawed title because the ‘boring stuff’ doesn’t need any more romanticizing. On the contrary, all it needs is our attention and vulnerability, and we’ll see what we’ve been longing for seemingly forever has been right in front of us all this time.