8:00 a.m. Wake up, open eyes, lift the shutters a few inches. Let the day slowly come into focus. Deep green-gray morning light comes into the bedroom. The light is the same as it was in summer back home; the heavy greenness of the trees coupled with the muggy grayness was hypnotizing and almost narcotic. The sky was a thick gray comforter that cocooned and muffled the world. It inspired a contented lethargy that made me relate to Rip Van Winkle.
Then came the rain. First in fat heavy drops that smacked your face. You would hear the rush of rain hit the tree leaves a split second before the downpour hit you. The burst of fresh rain cut into your doziness and woke you right up.
I would run to put on some scrappy play clothes and run around in the rain. I’d dance, stomp around on the sidewalk, and bask in the glorious shower. Mom would greet me at the door with a towel, and there was nothing like the contented feeling of changing into dry clothes. I can almost still feel it.
But it’s not going to rain today, in France, in 2016. It will be a seasonably warm, sunny day. This moment will pass soon enough. I’m a bit let down that nature has played this trick on me. Nostalgia has struck again.
Nostalgia in French has a negative connotation. La nostalgie is associated with regret, yearning, and melancholy. Sadness. I think it’s a pity, because Nostalgia is that old friend that connects me with the sentimentality that gives a hankering for a certain dish, or to draw, to write: in other words, the endless, untapped creativity inspired by my childhood.
Nostalgia connects me with the wonder I had at the world that I want to hold on to. It reminds me of the way the seasons have passed around and through me; man, I can still feel them all in my guts.
The smell of the ground and dry grass; the color of the early-morning sun mixed with dew on a summer morning; the smell of snow with its diamond luster.
The torrential downpours typical of the rainy season in Korea, when it was almost hard to breathe.
The crisp fall air, surrounded by brilliant tree leaves while hiking Gwanak Mountain (and how damn delicious a hard-boiled egg tastes when you reach the top and your body is aching for energy).
The cold days at the end of fall, when warm toffee-colored sunlight hit you while a cold breeze shook the last few crisp leaves off the trees.
Nostalgia is the resonance of these visceral memories. It’s not the melancholy in knowing that these experiences are long gone; it’s the joy in remembering that they happened.