Tuesday, September 25, 2012

List-It Tuesday: Nostalgia

It's List-It Tuesday, so here I am again with my list. This week's suggested topic was "things that make you nostalgic," which stumped me. So, like the good English major I used to be, I turned to the dictionary. The second definition, the one I incorporated into my list, is, I think, the one we all most associate with the word: "a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition." No wonder I was having trouble! My husband has described me as the least sentimental person he knows. (I will get back to that in a moment...)

The first definition of the word also shed some light for me. "The state of being homesick: HOMESICKNESS." When I was ten, I lived away from home for about six months or so. It was not a good situation. (Hello, understatement, and backstory! It's not coming, sorry.) At the beginning, I was excessively and sentimentally homesick; I can't even think about how excessively and sentimentally. I got over it, because it wasn't changing anything. As hard as I've thought about it, I can't remember ever being homesick in that way again, not at college, not traveling by myself, not at all that I can think of. Safe to say I detached.

The excessively sentimental side of me went underground, too. The items from my childhood that I've thrown out or let slip through my fingers--you'd be appalled. (When I got engaged I threw out an entire box of letters from old boyfriends. I figured it was wrong to keep them, and I've never missed them, although I didn't realize at the time that letter writing would basically become extinct, and quite soon. At the very least, they'd make excellent collage fodder now.) I know people who are sentimental about houses...no. The house to which my firstborn came home from the hospital, where he took his first steps, was also filthy with lead paint, super duper tiny, and in a neighborhood where lawns were regularly sprayed with nasty chemicals. I was extremely happy to leave it. And while I do own special objects, I'm hard pressed to think of any loss of thing that would devastate me.


But I am sentimental about my children's childhoods...perhaps even excessively so. I've tucked away all manner of odd flotsam and jetsam, and they can decide, when they're older, if they want to keep any of it. I have tried, to the best of my ability, to take note of as many moments as I could, not just the highlight-reel moments but the everyday ones as well. While I danced with my first baby in the sling throughout the night in the dark living room of that old, small house, because he couldn't sleep otherwise for colic, I looked down at that sweet baby face and thought, I will remember this night, this song playing softly, this lullaby I sing to you, this beautiful, ordinary, just-us moment. Over and over and over I have repeated the attempt to cement a moment fast in my mind and my heart.

And thus, this week's list is more of a heart-wish than a list. I cannot be accused of living in the past, or even wanting to. But if I could jar up just one day from each year of each of my children's lives--if time travel existed, I'd visit them all again, even just briefly.

And see? I am sentimental, because just writing this post has made me tear up just a bit. And you? What makes you nostalgic?

12 comments:

Lynn Fisher said...

You surprised yourself didn't you? Lovely, thoughtful list...and beautiful journal page!

aimee said...

I relate so deeply to what you wrote! Nostalgic things aren't always tangible, at least in object form -- but feelings and sentiments are so strong that sometimes I do feel like I can touch them, if that makes sense. Thanks for writing out your thought process -- it is beautiful and inspiring.

T.L. Holmes Williams said...

As a mother-to-be, I love your list! I am trying to write down stories of my childhood (as is my husband) in order to share them with our son one day. Instead of a traditional baby book, we are creating our son's story in a journal where we will be writing down and documenting with pictures his early years. I look forward to visiting your blog for more inspiration :)

nicole :three by sea said...

I understand the sentimental attachment to your children's childhood. I never could find a baby book I liked because they all seemed so trite, so I've hodge-podged a memory box of journals, notecards, momentos & special clothes, hoping that it'll make sense to him someday.

Bells said...

i'm quite nostalgic but I use that to fuel how I feel about the now. Today will become tomorrow's nostaglia fodder. I remember my brother, when he was about ten, sitting on the floor with me doing a puzzle - we had music on and it was a sunny day and we were just very content. He had the wisdom to say 'one day when we're grown up we'll remember today and look, we're right now here, living the moment we'll remember.' I thought it was deeply insightful. And it's stayed with me.

Looking back fondly (which is what I think nostalgia is) is only good to a point. You can't stay there and you need to realise that today is tomorrow's nostalgia trip, so enjoy the now.

storybeader said...

I was going to say, yes, you are nostalgic! But then, you said it yourself! And your children's lives are part of your life too! I like your comment about the good letter fodder. Oh well, find some tea and spill that on some paper {:-Deb

Donna Lee said...

I'm not nostalgic at all about things. But moments? Oh yes. Dancing around the living room to Paul Simon's Graceland with the girls, giving them the Wood Women speech, walking down the aisle and feeling supremely sure that this was the right thing. Feelings, moments and people-that makes me feel nostalgic.

kelli said...

I enjoyed reading your post! I could relate to some of the things you said too. Thanks for sharing!

Tracey Fletcher King said...

This list was a fabulous one... loved that it was so honest and your description of the night with your son was perfect... my daughter had awful colic and I remember a very similar evening ...xx

Mary C. Nasser said...

Thoughtful and deep heart-list and post. Really moving.
I love your idea of saving 1 day a year to visit at a future day. :)

Natasha said...

This was a beautiful post, and deliciously sentimental! I remember a night like that with my son who had reflux, I was on my own at the time and it was nearly 3am. One of memories I put in my treasure box.

Beautiful.

Reiko said...

A very interesting post!!And a beautiful page!Thanks for sharing!