nostalgia used to hit me

Like a sack of bricks. A word, a smell, a song — I was on the floor, wondering why time passes and how much I’d pay to go back.

Nostalgia is tricky, of course. After a while a memory that was just okay in the moment becomes sweeter and sweeter in your mind. It could be because nothing else is getting better. It could be because we miss what was once familiar. It could be because we’re too damn sensitive.

(I’m too sensitive).

This weekend I went back to Charlottesville. The last time I was there I was covered in dirt and paint, moving out of the tiny cinderblock room I’d lived in for a year. Back then I had a serious boyfriend, an English degree, and no clue what I was going to do with either one.

I made out just fine.

But in those two and a half years of figuring shit out, I never once thought about returning to my alma mater. I couldn’t face it. There were too many memories — some sweet, some not so sweet. I wasn’t enough of any future self to handle any of that.

But I went back this weekend and nostalgia hit me. Not hard, but softly, like a cool fuckin breeze. I was in love with how I felt. I still am.

Charlottesville is beautiful. It is hilly and if you drive far enough it is mountainous. It is streams and pedestrian pathways and burnt orange leaves (ok, only in the fall). I used to take classes on the lawn, in buildings lined with bricks and columns. Idyllic? Nothing but.

This weekend my friends and I sat around a table, chugging wine like we always had. We hadn’t seen each other in two years either, but we were easier to come back to. People are softer than places.

We reminisced a bit but mainly we planned. We talked about our current lives and our dream cities. We aren’t done moving. Where do we go from here? I think we feel more capable now than we have before. If you can survive those first few months of post-college no mans land, you can do anything.

People would ask me, “Why haven’t you gone back?”

And the answer, in some form or another was, “I don’t want to.”

I don’t want to remember the pain of not knowing. I don’t want to walk the street corners where I would sit, defeated, confused. I don’t want to feel the way I felt the day I graduated — entirely lost, partly sad, mainly angry.

You don’t have to love college. You don’t have to love anything, really, if you’re in your 20s. I hate that I think, sometimes, that I do. Why don’t I love this just a little bit more.

I wonder when I’ll stop growing. When will I wake up and say, last night I had a dream about a field of puppies. Instead of, you know, terrifying sagas of work, relationships, the future.

Nostalgia is nice because whether it hits you or just breezes past, it has already come to its conclusion. I sat on the lawn this weekend and I finally appreciated it. I wasn’t hurrying off to be someone else — I was in that place.

Time is the only cure for a sack of bricks. You can’t think your way out of that blow. You can’t sleep your way out of it either. (I’ve tried both).

I hate, sometimes, that I’m living and living and living and then months have passed. What have I accomplished.

I turned a sack of bricks into something I can handle. For now, I don’t expect to draw any more conclusions than that.


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