Nostalgia … Let’s Take Advantage of It.

There are moments when I find myself sitting alone in my bedroom, laptop perched precariously on my knees, right around the time I’m supposed to be falling into a deep sleep … but instead, I’m looking through old photos. Perhaps to set the mood I’ll have a bit of Jimmy Eat World playing. You know, mood music.

Oh yes, don’t you remember that one time? I do remember it, long for it, romanticize it, and then I get nostalgic. Perhaps tears will leak out the corners of my eyes, and I’ll hope no one’s up to hear me sobbing at 1 a.m. in my bedroom. Looking back at these moments, I find them so perfect, so wonderful, so happy and joyful and everything life should be. I don’t think about the imperfection hidden in the photos: the impatience before the shot, the upset stomach I had that day, how everyone was sweating profusely on that swelteringly hot summer’s day.

This is easy to do. Nostalgia can be engrossing, even addictive. And really, there’s little harm in remembering the past every once in a while, as long as it doesn’t overtake my life. My problem is I never seem to appreciate these events while they’re happening.

I’m on the brink of some major changes in my life: getting married, moving to Madrid, starting a new life with Mario. It’s everything, all at once. It’s exciting and scary and overwhelming and weird and challenging and wonderful. It’s what I want; it’s what I don’t want. It’s what I need; it’s what I don’t need.

I often forget to be purposeful. This time, though, I need to be just that. I need to be nostalgic for the present, for the life I’m living now and about to start living in fewer than ten days.

But those ten days do separate me from the beginning of that life, and so I will start now, not then. I will cherish the last few days I have here in Indiana before all the madness begins. I’ll cherish the just-planted endless cornfields of Indiana, the rapidly increasing humidity, the ability to take my dog on a walk, practicing Spanish with my mother, cooking for my family, and being.

 Ready. Set. Go!

10 thoughts on “Nostalgia … Let’s Take Advantage of It.

  1. Congratulations! That’s very exciting news that you’re moving back to Spain and getting married, although it’s natural that you’re feeling nervous and apprehensive. It’s the start of a new chapter in your life. As another expat in Spain, I’d say that one of the life-savers is the fantastically supportive network of fellow expats (esp in a city like Madrid), but then you already know that. Enjoy the rest of your time in the US with your family, and never forget that Skype is the homesick expat’s best buddy!

    1. I am very excited to be a part of the expat network in Madrid! It wasn’t the same in Zamora (obviously). I do love Skype!

  2. Kaley, I feel like I’m going through the same emotional battle. In one month I”m returning to the United States. I’m really excited about going home. I want to see my boyfriend, float the river with all of my friends, go to my favorite restaurants, all of the great things I love about home. But Spain feels like home now too. And even though I feel like rushing through this month in anticipation of Texas I know that after a week or two in the states what I’m going to miss is speaking Spanish, tapeando, siesta, all of the wonderful people I met here, the sea, walking everywhere, depending on public transportation, having time to do everything that I want to do. Spain has seduced me and I’m hopelessly in love. I see the faults, but it’s not enough to keep me from wanting to be here. It must be really difficult for you, much more so than for me because I’ve always felt that I would live far from family and all things familiar. But the question is this: how do you make sure to live in the moment? You have to try and fill your last few days with everything that’s great about home before you have to leave it all behind. And I have to try to remember that I’m still not home and to try and keep my mind and my focus here in Spain. It’s difficult to have two homes but I don’t think that it means that you’re life is split between two places, I think we’re lucky because we have double everything. Twice the amount of homes, friends and family. Twice the amount of love. It’s a blessed and beautiful life full of adventure and excitement. I imagine that you’ll see your friends and family more often than you think (less often than you want of course) and very soon you’ll have YOUR bed, probably in both countries.

    1. Richelle, thank you for your wonderful response. (I’m copying your email on this, so I know you’ll see it.) I agree with you! It’s so hard to live in the moment, because the very act of *trying* is kind of not living in the moment, if that makes sense to you. But I’m doing it anyway — cooking lots right now, for instance, which I love to do.

      I really like your perspective about double instead of half! It’s like when people say that friends double your joy and halve your sorrows. I get double the good stuff! Yes!

      I wish you luck in your living-in-the-moment efforts in Spain. It’s hard to miss Spain; I’ve not been back for almost a year. Live it up!

  3. The transition might not be the easiest, but you are about to start a new, marvelous chapter in your life. I echo everything Richellle and Fiona say, and on top of that I can say that each day, each week, each month, it gets easier. Beyond that, you’ve already got a built-in support system here (apart from Mario, I know there are lots of Americanas here – like myself (!) – who will welcome you with open arms). Hang in there, and know that the best is yet to come! And, when that doesn’t work, just think of all the amazing Spanish food and wine in your very near future ;). Besos

  4. I am honestly so excited for you and I completely feel you in what you’ve written. And nostalgia is so hard sometimes for me…I’ll get off the phone with my grandpa back in Canada and start crying thinking about my life there. The larger picture is more important though and one day I’ll be nostalgic over this very moment too…it’s unavoidable.

    1. Yes, thank you! I sometimes look back at pictures from two years ago, and I’m struck by how I look — gee, I looked fine, what was I even thinking? It’s weird how time slants your perspective.

      Thank you for your perspective. Maybe someday we’ll get to meet up.

  5. Aww i love this! Nostalgia is awesome…I love it. I get so nostalgic about our junior and senior year in college and my time abroad in Hong Kong and I’m sure I’ll get nostalgic about the here and now if I’m ever not living in Bloomington. It makes me sad and miss those times sometimes but I think its all for the better because they were special times and they deserve to be remembered. You’re involved in so many of my nostalgic memories and I’ll really cherish them as we get older! Enjoy these days with your family and let’s make some more memories when you’re back to visit!!

    1. Hilary! Thank you for your comment. I was just making a surprise for Mario (which involves old photos), and I got to see a lot of college photos. Good times, huh? Remember, I always “want hang” with you!

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