I haven’t posted for a few days as I’ve been busy writing in my journal instead. I try to be as honest as possible in this blog, but sometimes I need to write privately in order to simply figure out what’s going on inside. And what’s been going on lately is a heavy dose of nostalgia.
The origins of the words nostalgia are connected to the Greek for pain & homesickness. When I discovered this, it made complete sense & spoke very clearly to the emotions I encounter whenever I’m feeling nostalgic: it is like some kind of yearning for the past, for some time & place that went before. Over the last few days, I’ve been wistfully thinking of a particular street. Many moons ago, a friend of mine rented a house on that street for a while, I can’t even remember how long for. Over the years – as memories blur & the rose-tinted spectacles get stronger – that house has become iconic of a time when I felt happy & free & loved. Of course, it was never quite as blissful as my memory suggests. It was amazing & fun & naive in a way that could just never be now, but it was also a time of frustration & confusion, things unsaid that should have been said & that now will forever remain unuttered – ‘Mistaken shyness can be costly’, as Joan Armatrading once sang.
Why my memories of that house on that road should feel particularly poignant at the minute was troubling me. And then today it struck me… It’s about letting go. Nostalgia is partly about pain, a sense of loss – losing something, even if that something never truly existed quite as we remember. I’m not entirely sure why I’m feeling a sense of loss at the moment. Maybe it’s because the end of my PhD – almost in sight – marks the end of another period in my life. Maybe it’s because I’ve had an exquisite weekend, one that reads like a checklist of all the things I love & value – in many ways, my weekend symbolises the future, how I dream my life would be. That is fantastic & amazing & I’m incredibly grateful to be in such a position. But this move towards the future also marks a move away from the past, leaving it behind. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I don’t want to go back to the past; if I did, I could still be living my life in a similar way, doing the same sorts of things – and making the same mistakes. I also know I can’t go back to the site of my nostalgia; the place may still exist, but that moment in time has long gone – if it was ever really as I remember anyway.
Maybe this is why I cried so much at Toy Story 3. I am happy & excited to be moving on, but that doesn’t stop me feeling wistful for what is being left behind. There are things I will miss. There are things I will always remember fondly. And Henry Street is one of them.