A Sentimental Longing or Wistful Affection for the Past
Lately I’ve realized how often I find myself lost in a state of nostalgia. Longing for those simpler times, I contemplate how I would do things differently, realize that I didn’t know what to appreciate at the time, and desperately wish that I could go back to be in that place again. For me, nostalgia is like a highlight reel of overexposed, slow motion movie clips that only show the best memories. Or a trailer that gives you just a glimpse of the noteworthy scenes to make you want to see the whole movie.
Rewind to a few months ago, and I’m at Scopa in Venice. Under the dim, romantic lighting, you see me sitting across from my ex-boyfriend at our favorite restaurant, laughing while I hold a glass of Italian wine that he ordered for us.
Rewind a few more years. It’s 2014. I’m driving across the TX-71 W with my roommate, coming back to Austin after a long weekend in Galveston. With the windows rolled down and the wind blowing through our hair, we’re singing to a country song on the radio, making up our own words and dance moves as we drive.
Meanwhile, Liam Neeson is narrating my character’s fatal flaw: “And she didn’t know what she had until it was gone.” Fade to black and my daydream is over. I’m back to sitting at my kitchen table in my studio apartment, remembering that these are memories, moments from the past that are lost in the universe.
Once I’ve decided to escape to this space for awhile, I’ll return to these memories over and over again. While trying to feel like I’m actually there, sometimes I’ll convince myself that the past was much better than it really was. I’ll talk myself out of remembering anything negative about a past relationship or that I couldn’t wait to move back to LA when I lived in Austin.
It wouldn’t be nostalgia if we didn’t overlook the details that challenged us in the moment, but that’s also where we can find the beauty. Reliving past memories that feel better in hindsight allows us to realize what we may have lost sight of in the present. For me, especially as an introvert, I use a lot of my alone time to do this type of processing. Lost in thought, I’ll examine every possibility and dream of different outcomes.
Rather than jumping from the past to present so often, I’m learning to enjoy the current moment without trying to change it. It’s okay to get lost sometimes. But when we return, there is so much to appreciate by just looking around, enjoying the essence of each moment before it’s gone forever.
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