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  • Today nostalgia is coined as an "incurable modern condition."

    Svetlana Boym, a Harvard professor and the author of The Future of Nostalgia, claims that the 20th century began with a futuristic utopia and ended with nostalgia. This is to say that the further forward we move along, the more something inside us clings to what already was. Boym divides it into two phenomenon’s: restorative nostalgia, in which one seeks to cement the cracks in memory as they see fit, and reflective nostalgia, which “thrives in the longing itself.”

    The longing itself.

    Years of constantly looking over my shoulder for one more glimpse of blue scenery I’m leaving behind has shown me that the longing acts as a taper between the reality of what is, and what was. The further I move away (not forcefully, but merely following life as it comes) from an event, or a person, the closer I look back at them, running old dialogue rough across my tongue, evaluating shapes and listening closely to the timbre of old voices.

    The trigger always comes so quick that I don’t even have a second to sturdy my footing, or even suspect that a trigger is coming. Sometimes it is an act of exploration, the opening an old drawer, or leafing through an old album that fills the afternoon light of the family room closet with dust. And sometimes it’s these brief nuances of the little bits of my life: the smell of my parked car beneath the birches in my driveway in New Jersey, the cerulean haze of a violin tune that accidentally comes on my shuffle while I am at the gym. The first smell of fresh snow always conjures up the same image: seven year old me bundled in a purple snowsuit, helping my father brush a soft coat of snow off our Pontiac. One note of a songbird in Allston sends me to a crisp morning in the Catskill mountains, while even the crackling of modest flames in a fireplace in Burbank hurtle me back to a burgundy living room in Woodcliff Lake, my knees curled into the lap of someone I once loved, the smells of warm pasta still lingering.

    Even when I do not consciously succumb to its pulls, I am undoubtedly enamored with the twisted romanticism of tracing my finger down old pathways, guided by scents and visuals, always music. Nostalgia is one of the only things there wherever and whenever I need it, even if the toying of time and longing yourself into displacement doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence. And yet, in the early hours of a Los Angeles morning, caught off guard by the scent of damp dew, I am spinning, spinning, spinning, landing swiftly on my feet moments later in my Kia, driving down Cahuenga Boulevard, everything exactly as I left it.
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