Friday, September 6, 2013

Nostalgia Arises at the Strangest Times

Did I really do stuff like this once?
I am now less than 4 days away from departing for Amsterdam, and from there points farther east. I know I'm simply going to a different continent, but it feels as though I might as well be going to a different planet. Today and yesterday have been spent running errands and packing, and as we all should know by now, packing is not simply a material exercise. The boxes into which I pack my things (i.e. life) exist metaphorically as well as physically. Every one of my probably exorbitantly numerous belongings (I guess I have to admit at this point that I am, unfortunately, a hoarder like my father) reminds me of a different time and place from my past. I'm leaving most of my life behind, literally and figuratively, in little boxes in my mothers closet, and taking a small fraction of it with me to Eurasia. The strange thing is, my past doesn't feel like my own past anymore, but a completely different life. The people I knew as a child, in high school, and even in college, have no impact on what my new life in Russia will be. In the same way, the person I was in college, in high school, and especially as a child, feels foreign to me, like a character in a middling drama novel. I feel a separation from my memories, as if they never happened but were simply dreams.

I'm feeling this way and I haven't even left yet. Maybe I'm getting prematurely introspective, or perhaps it makes perfect sense that I feel this way. I'm in a transition zone between a cloudy past and a mysterious future, and I'm uncertain of where I belong. I am certain, however, that for better or for worse, my upcoming trip to Russia will profoundly affect my character, perspective, habits, and, well, life.

It's funny, it's always been easy for me to leave home, but this time I am actually getting truly nostalgic for my past life, and for my family, my homeland, and the crisp fall weather. This is the first time in 6 years I have been in New Hampshire in September and I forgot how much I truly love it here. The Monadnock Region in New Hampshire is the only place I think I'll ever be able to call home. And as much as I am looking forward to my trip to Russia, for the first time in my life I don't want to leave home.  

I've always found making friends easy and keeping friends next to impossible. After 5 years of College it finally dawned on me that that is why we have family. Family is always there for you, whereas friends and lovers come and go. Maybe that's why I'm finally homesick. I finally feel, after spending a summer living with my brother and visiting often with my mother and father, a strong, necessary connection to my family. My family is something I need now, as I wade between my past and future lives.
"Dodger" has seen worse days than this one on route 1 in California... far worse. 

As I drove in my old 1999 Dodge Neon across Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire for the last time, I glanced as often as I could at the stars that gleamed brilliantly through the dry, cool air. Through my headphones (my car stereo doesn't work) blasted some of my favorite songs, and I sang along gleefully to the Decemberists (named after the Decemberist Revolution in Tsarist Russia!), Death Cab for Cutie, and Band of Horses. Since I was 16 my Dodge Neon has been my freedom, my independence, my liberty, and now I wont drive a car for 9
Speaking of the Decemberists... "Oh New England, la da dee da..."
months. When I return to the United States next June my old busted up Neon will be gone, probably torn apart for the measly sum offered for its scrap metal, and I will have to buy a new car. Perhaps then I will close the book on childhood, and move forward confidently into a new world. Or perhaps it will never close completely, and the faces and places of things past will continue to swim across my mind as a hazy dream...

This is all assuming my visa arrives in time. Amid the nostalgia is also stress, as today I received hepatitis vaccines in both my arms, and received word that my visa should (repeat, should!) arrive at 8am on Tuesday morning. This is good, because my flight is 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon. Maybe I'll just have to stay in New England after all ;).


  1. It must be the fall season because I am feeling pretty nostalgic over here in Mongolia! When people start talking about changing leaves and apple cider...

    I think definitely one of the challenges of living abroad is figuring out how close (especially in the beginning) to keep connected to people in the U.S. when your life is being lived an ocean away. It's kind of interesting and I don't think I've figured out a good balance yet!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. An eloquent post- your comments definitely resonated with me. As I child, I used to move frequently (from a few months to a couple of years) and I am deeply familiar with that uncertainty of having a place one calls "home".

    "I've always found making friends easy and keeping friends next to impossible" also struck a chord. As a young adult, I am still coming to realize the importance of family. One of the most touching things I heard this year was when I attended a friend's wedding and the bride (who was raised in China & came to the US for law school) told the groom, "Thanks Baby- for bringing me home." New and old, family is indispensable.

    I am glad we are family. :) Good luck in all your new adventures & I look forward to both the reading of them and the time when we will meet again.