Nostalgia week

Between Facebook and the fact that I am all too Googleable these days, I’ve spent both real and virtual time this week with people who, 6 months ago, I would have put money on never seeing or hearing from again.  This gives me an odd feeling that there is an indiscernible pattern to life, and that if only I could learn to interpret it, I’d know what’s coming. Not that I entirely want to know what life has in store for me, because I like surprises. Still, these loops seem as though they must be meaningful in some way, even though I am aware that it is certainly one of life’s little tricks to ensure that one never recognises the meaningful moments until they are gone.

One of my concerns with moving back to Oxford was precisely that idea of ‘back’, which is not my favourite direction. But of course, coming back to a place does not also mean travelling back in time and so although the setting is familiar, all the characters have moved forward, and all of the relationships have shifted slightly to accommodate the inevitable changes brought by marriage, separation, kids, careers and just the addition of a few more years. Oxford is certainly full of memories for me, but in a way that provides a thread of continuity on into the future, rather than trapping me in the past.

So also, these other figures from the past are not insubstantial and shadowy remnants from 10 or even 20 years ago that I have conjured from memory. Out of my sight and knowledge, they have had the flesh and blood temerity to get on with their own lives; when I meet them now I don’t meet the person who I knew so long ago, but someone slightly different, with whom to get reacquainted. Since all of these people have been dear to me in one way or another, it is a marvellous thing that our paths are crossing again. It might be a transient reconnection; it might be the starting point of revived friendships that last for years. It is, of course, too soon to tell.


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I've run out of books. Again.

7 thoughts on “Nostalgia week”

  1. “…that idea of back, which is not my favorite direction…” I can so relate. I’ve applied for a job in my hometown, which is sort of commutable from where I live now, at a place where I once worked. It was the best job I’d ever had, and I love the people there, but I can’t help but wonder what it will be like to Return. Assuming I were to get an offer, which is not super-likely, having been out of that field for over ten years.

  2. I never like the idea of going “back” in life, either, but it doesn’t sound at all like you’ve gone back. Maybe it’s really true that one never can go back.

  3. Back in 1997 I moved “back” to Minneapolis. I had been away for about four years living in London, DC, and Honolulu. So whenever I ran into someone from the old days I always felt the need to let them know that I had left and come back. I realized I needed to give it a rest, however, when I said (as I almost always did) to someone “I just moved back from Hawaii…” and then realized that I had been back for two years already and was still using that tired phrase. It wasn’t long after that that I left again.

  4. Debby – Good luck with the job, although it sounds as though you have mixed feelings.

    Emily – Would you move back to Connecticut, do you think? Or it is next stop Maine all the way?

    Thomas – I say all the time ‘I just moved back from the US’. Enough has changed that it’s either offer up some explanation as to why there are things I just don’t know, or be regarded as a complete idiot. It also explains why I can’t drink instant coffee and why I expect 24 hour service!

  5. I think it’s really lovely to meet up with old friends – you get a sense of continuity as well as time passing, and relationships often mature like fine wine. I don’t mind going back – I like the French phrase ‘reculer pour mieux sauter’, which effectively means taking a step back enables you to move forward better.

  6. If the opportunity were to present itself, I’d move back to CT in a heartbeat! And I’d move back to the Upper West Side in less than a heartbeat. But I’m looking forward to Maine, too.

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