a house call on a friend's ailing computer, and we stopped to do a
couple of errands. He'd gone into a store while I snoozed in the car,
warm in the afternoon sun. The window was partly open and the sound
of parking lot traffic drifted in along with a waft of deli-chicken
scented air and suddenly I was filled with a deep sense of nostalgia.
And I found myself wondering about the components of that feeling.
The dictionary defines nostalgia as: a sentimental long or wistful
affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy
personal associations. Okay, we've probably all had those moments
when a color or smell or sound brings up that swell of the heart and
contemplative recall of... something. But what is it exactly that
happens inside us? Some sort of close relative to deja vu, some
connection of the little gray cells that triggers a chemical release
of longing and pleasure? And what primal purpose was it that found it
useful enough to incorporate into our biology? Is it akin to the urge
that drives a goose to begin a seasonal migration or a sparrow to
build a nest? Is it some remnant of survival that now just creates a
pleasant ache of memory for some undefined time in our past?
I sat with closed eyes, enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun, and
tried to remember a specific event tied to the inner glow. There was
none, only the vague missing and longing. Only nostalgia.