My Mum used to say “Irene you’ve got the memory of an elephant and an elephant never forgets.”
Being a memoirist, reflecting on times in the past is not an uncommon pastime of mine. Nor is my habit of staring at photos, remembering the events that went with them. Remembering and nostalgia, however, are for me two very different things. Remembering takes you into the future, gives you an identity and without those memories you become lost in time and space as we see with people suffering from alzheimers, other dementias and some head injuries. Nostalgia, on the other hand, implies, for me at least, that there is a longing to return to that former time, wishing a place in the past was where you would have preferred to stay and that is not true for me. I love living in the present although….
Those first emotions, the intensity with which they are felt. Such as the first time you fly in a plane. The build up of excitement as you sit, waiting to board.
Not only the anticipation of what is at the other end of the flight but the flight itself. The small niggling fear as the engines roar into life and the plane starts its taxi down the runway. The awe as lift of occurs and you are suddenly looking at the world from above.
The first time you see snow and other wonders of the natural world fill you with emotion that on subsequent viewings lessen with intensity.
That feeling of looking your best on the first occasion you are aware of it lives with you and for me, I have never felt as good about myself as that 4 year old did in the clothes she saw, persuaded her mother to purchase and modelled with pride and joy.
That first time feeling of love is the emotion I probably am nostalgic for. That fear that he will not contact you, dressing to impress, feeling as though you are floating on that cloud you saw from the plane, not coming down to earth for months. The world not existing outside of the two of you.
Although I may be nostalgic for that emotion that goes along with new love I am happy I have a different kind of love. I’m sure that I could get those new love feelings back but it would mean my old love would have gone and that is an emotion I am not looking forward to. I think I’ll stick with memories to take me forward into the future and leave the nostalgia alone, living in the present rather than wishing I was living in the past.