Long live Nostalgia!
In the eighties and nineties, while I was growing up in Senj, our mother bought us shoes in Borovo. It was one of those stores where everyone shopped, but as a kid longing for a nicely wrapped package of smoke and mirrors, I was awfully embarrassed to wear those shoes. I guess that capitalism, along with Italy, more easily penetrated these coastal regions, luring us with Palma Nova and Trieste which were – even though the quality was much lower – outside our price range. We wanted a piece of the western cake, but all we got were crumbs in dosed servings.
However, with Borovo, we were all equal.
Zvjezdana and Dane worked in Borovo; it was a place of brotherhood and unity.
The dark blue Borosane were a symbol of an era, an image from my childhood.
Gordana, the waitress wore them; I can't remember whether she worked in the restaurant Mliječni or at the Nehaj Hotel; a quick glance at her shoes while she was bringing coffee with whipped cream for dad and an apricot juice also with whipped cream for me. Silent steps, slim calves, a blue vest and a white shirt.
The war happened in the nineties, along with the privatization, transition, democracy, capitalism, neoliberalism.
It's a bloody miracle that Borovo managed to survive the war and the transition. However, the collateral victims were 15 thousand workers from the factory in Vukovar.
The Borovo store in Senj is still in its old place.
Along with capitalism we accepted the new stories and changes in meaning, and that creating an image based around a socialist product rarely succeeded.
However, nostalgia, one of the most powerful forces of modern day marketing, managed to put (rather than to restore) a new face of desirability on Borovo. Startasice, Borosane, Boromine – a symbol of an era, image of a hipster.
McLuhan denotes nostalgia as the most obvious signifier of the loss of identity which manifests through the revival of clothing, music, dances. “We live by the revival, it tells us who we are, or were.”
Today, nostalgia is a complex phenomenon which can hardly be unambiguously defined as a yearning for the things that are distant and lost. It’s escapism, the other side of the coin of the modern man’s struggle with reality. A physical body of a digital human.
Through nostalgia, Borovo won its battle, marking the starting point for dealing with the past and establishing a new level of identity formation – the one that’s based on the past, but with its head full of ideas, the one that’s also moving forward, into the future.
Before I left Croatia and Europe, in the summer of 2013, I bought a pair of Startas sneakers for Asia, in that same Borovo in Senj from the beginning of the story, now the ultimate hipster store. “The most important thing is that you have good shoes for walking,” mom said. Those same blue and white shoes walked across Hong Kong, Bali, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok ... They gave their soul and fabric to Asia. And served me as a reminder of home.