My wife and I have discovered that we are opposites that way. She tends to be forward-looking and has little time for the past. It carries through especially with regards to material keepsakes and such. I will pull out a photo album or a card my kids wrote and spend time looking at it and reminiscing. She can appreciate it, but has very little time for it or attachment to it.
I'm not sure what makes some people nostalgic and others not so much. One of my biggest triggers is music. If I hear a song from the '70s, I am instantly back to the place that it reminds me of - my front porch, a friend's car, high school, wherever.
For instance, whenever I hear Billy Preston sing "Will it go round in circles," I always picture him on the Midnight Special, a television show built around live performances by bands. I remember him banging away on a piano with a big afro and as a 12 year old kid, I thought, this dude is killin' it! It gave me an appreciation for his music and was one of those "where were you when you..." moments. I was in my living room watching the Midnight Special.
Or when I hear, Ride Captain, Ride, by The Blues Image, I am taken back to the beach at Bayport, Minnesota on the Saint Croix river with my step siblings. Those Saturdays were the best, times when we had few cares and it was summer.
I tend to think of Lava Lamps, mood rings, and TV shows like The Waltons and Charlie's Angels. At the same time, I tune out the bad news of the day, like oil crises, Iranian hostages, and presidential impeachments, and the Vietnam war. Those things take back seat to Tang, Quisp and Quake, and disco (well, I guess disco was bad news of a different type.)
So when I write memoir, I think this is why I have such a love for it. It allows me not only to go back to those times, but to recreate them, hopefully in a realistic way that enables people to draw upon their own similar memories. And while I don't necessarily want to go back to those times - I love my life today - I do have a love for my past and feel I am lucky to have lived it.