I have never really understood nostalgia. The concept of feeling nostalgic always seemed very strange to me. Everyone I know, at one point, has seen something, heard something, or even smelled something that, they say, “brings them back to a better time.” I could never really relate to that. Of course, there are things I see every day that reminds me of something in the past, but I never felt any longing to go back.
Before I get into that, apparently, one can feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia to the point where it begins to affect their mood. I’ve seen people switch from happy to sad over a particular smell. It triggers something in their mind, bringing them back to something unpleasant in their past. Sometimes they can’t even pinpoint the exact event. Is that basically déjà vu? Anyway, I used to live in this little house in the nearby town of North Bergen. If you pass through the Lincoln Tunnel to get to campus, you’ve certainly passed North Bergen. My part of North Bergen too, so you’re a part of this now. I lived about half my life there, then my family and I moved to Pennsylvania. However, the majority of my family in the United States still live in or near North Bergen, so I still have ties. Even after moving, I’ve come back and visited plenty of times. It wasn’t until I recently passed by my old home that the overwhelming nostalgia hit me. I can’t even be sure it’s nostalgia, but I noticed that everything and nothing changed at the same time. How can that be? The house is still there, but it was a lot smaller than I remembered. The windows are the same but boarded up. The neighbors’ homes are the same, but they’re empty. The street was the same street I remembered, but narrower. We even had a fence that surrounded the front of the house, but very little of that fence remains. My elementary school down the street hasn’t changed at all, but it’s always empty when I pass by. It felt like my time in Pennsylvania was this sort of purgatory that was short-lived.
It’s almost like I had died and come back.
At least nostalgia is exactly what I think that would feel like. Everything and nothing is the same. There is so much family history tied to that home, but looking at it now it might as well have never happened. Ever since then, I’ve just felt this longing to go back and see it again just to make sure it’s real. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. I blame it on the curriculum here.