Sitting outside of a coffee shop today, talking with a friend, a car passed, and once the street outside the shop was revealed again, I was awash with nostalgia for Brasil. It happens often in Abilene that I experience nostalgia, it makes sense: this place is not my home, although it is becoming that, this place has echoes of small town, Southern life that has shaped me, but in a very Texas, Southwestern way, and my time here so far as been quite transformative, and for me, change always brings nostalgia.
I expressed my feelings to my friends, briefly describing what the potential triggers might have been. The fact that we were discussing life and the direction of our lives or possibly just the sudden view of the street, which occasionally looks like a run-down impoverished urban area (in a phenomenon that I am learning to cope with, because Texas has so much land, rather than rebuilding/re-purposing structures, they often get abandoned) were both plausible reasons. Then we talked of the etymology of the word and original meanings, because we are nerds and words are important.
He mentioned that he thought it meant something like the sadness of returning home. I had never given much thought to the dark side of nostalgia, until today. Upon looking it up, I was shocked by the accuracy of my recent experience in life with this definition:
a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition
It is not the streets or the shops that I miss of Brasil, but of the life I had imagined there, the assured nature of purpose, and the person I was then. I know that I am better now, and I don’t want to go back, but still, I miss that irrecoverable condition.