I’m not one to live in the past, but I do consider myself a fairly reflective person. I guess that memories, reliving moments, and nostalgia comes with the territory. Especially nostalgia.
People often describe nostalgia coming in waves. Like something that washes over you and then passes. While I understand that metaphor, nostalgia usually stays with me for a while. It lingers a little longer. Sometimes it’ll whisper quietly one day, and then a week later, it’ll come in like a wave. Or maybe a brick wall. Sometimes nostalgia hits me hard.
I’ve always been a psych nerd, so the brain has always fascinated me. It amazes me that I could be walking around campus and get the faintest whiff of spring flowers and suddenly I’m back in 8th grade, waiting for the bus at the end of my driveway on the first warm day. The memories, the feelings, the longing for moment is so real. How does your brain suddenly shift through all your memories and pull one that you forgot you made?
It doesn’t always have to be a smell that triggers something for me, although sunscreen always reminds me of day camp, the perfume on my dresser at home brings me back to freshman year of high school near my locker, and gasoline makes me feel like I’m on my boat. People, songs, or even words can cause the waves and the whispers.
Talking with my girls from home can trigger memories of prom, trips to the mall, sleepovers that included photo shoots and dance parties, or daily volleyball practices. Looking at old pictures with my sister brings me back to when my cousins and I would swim in the lagoon all day down the shore, or the feeling of first walking on stage during my middle school plays. Being in the kitchen with my mom reminds me of all the hearts to hearts we had over the years, her cooking and me sitting on the floor next to the cabinet, laughing or crying about how dramatic my life always seemed.
I often get nostalgic about places, and those twinges are sometimes the most powerful. Recently I’ve been overly nostalgic for Italy: the streets of Siena, the hills of Tuscany, the views of Cinque Terre. Those are usually triggered by songs from last summer, or anything by One Republic (I listened to their album Native all the time when I was there). Or sometimes they just come out of no where. It’s like my subconscious realizes it’s almost been a year and it’s time to start calling me back.
While most people consider nostalgia as connected to far away memories, I wonder if you can be nostalgic for the recent past. What if I get nostalgic over that formal I just went to, and that feeling of freedom and pure happiness as I danced with my friends? Or for a few months ago when I first connected with my new Orientation family, with all the excitement and anticipation for the greatness to come? For my loved one that I just hugged moments ago, but somehow I already miss them, deeply? For yesterday, when everything seemed perfect and I couldn’t stop smiling?
In Greek, nostalgia means “the pain from an old wound.” According to a Pinterest quote, it’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than the memory alone. A longing. A pull. A release.
Whether it’s a wave or a whisper, or maybe even a brick wall, I think nostalgia is a good thing. It reminds you of the good, maybe the painful, the progress you’ve made and the things that have shaped your soul. If you’re nostalgic for something, that means it must have made an impression on you at some point. And revisiting it can only add to the fullness of your memories. Don’t be afraid to be pulled away from the present. Maybe the past needs to remind you of something important.
Here’s to waves, whispers, & nostalgia.