No.Stal.Gia. Nostalgia. A beautiful word really, even if I initially didn’t think so. It’s meaning is even more beautiful: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
17 years old, and I’ve got nostalgia intertwined in my hair, in the spaces between my fingers, and balancing awkwardly on the bridge of my nose. It will creep up on me when I’m not looking for it, when I’m instead absentmindedly running my fingers through my hair or pushing up my glasses or clasping my hands together.
It’s a strange emotion; it engulfs you like a wave, fills your heart, mind, and soul, and seems to cast a warm glow on everything that it encounters. It’s like remembering a day at the beach through the lens of your sunglasses, like a well chosen Instagram filter on life.
Nostalgia for a place? I’ve spent three summers of high school on the same college campus; every year, it seems to become more faceted and intimate. The familiarity is comforting, and the inevitable procession remains that I’m going to remember this campus with astounding detail, but in the coming years these details will fade into nothingness and I will be left with vague, broad memories, but whatever I do remember will not only be the essence, but the culmination of my time there.
Nostalgia for a time? I can most easily think back to the earliest years of my childhood, where life was simplistic. Life was yes or no, not the complex web of stress and hormones that it is right now. Every question was yes or no, and there was no gray area to get caught up in. I could get away with eating whatever I wanted, my parents’ decisions governed my life, and I didn’t have to fend for myself. Everyone told us we had the rest of forever to get ready for the future, and it seems like the future has already arrived. No more teachers guiding my hand, no more experimenting with hobbies. It’s like people expect to have already figured out the rest of our lives, and there’s no room for error or experimentation. Nostalgia for a simpler time.
Nostalgia for a person? Indeed. No matter how long your relationship has stretched itself, it seems like it stretches back into all eternity. And you want to start at the very beginning of it all, and remember every step – every waver in confidence and loyalty, every hesitation and doubt, every act of defiance, and every rekindling.
Find a combination of all thing: nostalgia for a person at a particular time in a particular place, and you’re sure to be overwhelmed with emotion. Nostalgia is both the best and worst sensation, for it can help distract from the present. Meanwhile, it can keep you engrained in the past, in memories that are nothing but…memories. They can be relived in your mind but cannot be recreated in this reality, and if you depend too heavily on them, you will find yourself pining for some unattainable thing. And you want nothing to return to the place at that time with that person…all you want.
The beginning of a potentially beautiful nostalgia playlist: close your eyes, focus on the music but let it fade into the background as the backs of your eyelids become a movie screen and your ears drums become a smooth record player.