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A Living Memory of the Lingering Present
Anyone who knows me well will know that I love the city of Barcelona. It's got a charm that just gets into your heart. But there is something it will never be: my childhood town. That spot is already taken, and it's irreplaceable. I visit often, mostly every weekend. And still it sometimes feels like I haven't been there in years. I want to talk about the feelings we develop towards people, places, and things with time.
Perhaps the most suitable word is nostalgia. When people talk nostalgia, they refer to the feeling of melancholy towards a sweetly remembered past. But there is a second, more nuanced version of the feeling, an even scarier one…
Right now, lying in bed in my childhood home, I can hear the train afar. This takes me back to my infancy, to my “reading time” in bed right before going to sleep, when I heard the trains just like I do now.
I think about that time, five, ten, fifteen years ago. And then… I am here again: five, ten, fifteen years later.
This is where the less acknowledged side of nostalgia comes in: the anticipated nostalgia. I still visit my home quite often, I still sleep in that same bed. What is it then in my mind that tells me this is going to disappear? Is it my knowledge of my own life circumstances that warns me of change to come? Is it the learned behavior of a child coming of age and finding out that nothing lasts for ever? Why am I nostalgic about something that isn't yet gone?
Maybe this is just my head, telling me to treasure time and people whenever possible. But it's a constant feeling in the back of my mind. Meeting a friend, whether close or not, a thought that this might be the very last time I see them. Or even worse, we'll just slowly lose contact over the years until we no longer have anything in common, or a reason to meet again. The decay of our relationships with other people, and with the most voluminous sections of our life, ripping away small pieces of our souls instead of having the decency of hitting us in the face… Now that is a fear one just doesn't sleep away.