All The Regrets You Can Forget

This beautiful weather and so-close-to-done-with-school taste in the air has been haunting me since Monday. When I step outside at 11:30 pm, the warm night greets me and the smells of summer vacation comes wafting. (Summer vacation, of course, smelling like fresh cut lawns and dry grass cooling and night blooming jasmine). Whenever I experience it, I have this ache in my heart, a sense of longing… but I don’t even know to what I can attribute these pangs of nostalgia.

The most ridiculous part (or most interesting, to put a positive spin on it) is that I have come to realize I am remembering something that I don’t think is real. Apparently I am not the first person to come across this idea.

Nostalgia for what we have lost is more bearable than nostalgia for what we have never had…. -Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Braff (again) also illustrates what we’re talking about

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.
Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Andrew Largeman: You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist.

I will misquote unspoken novel by Bank again

“What was so great about the past?” I demanded, preparing to cite women voting and civil rights as counter-examples to what my grandmother was going to say.
She thought for a moment.
“The lamplighter used to carry a little stool around with him,” she said finally.
I patted her arm. I understood.

I think I am taking the last weeks of spring quarter of college of four years and mashing them up into a memory of something only wonderful. Here is what didn’t make the cut:

  • anything high school or earlier
  • packing
  • moving
  • finals
  • sweating in unconditioned rooms
  • inedible dorm food
  • shitty, extraordinarily painful break ups
  • dread over lack of job freshman year
  • sophomore year mild depression
  • 20 unit hell my junior year, including
  • -the hardest class I ever took
  • -40 page proposal for my honors thesis
  • dread over lack of job senior year

Here is what I do remember:

  1. Giddy, head over heels brand new crush thinking of you every waking moment
  2. Sunbathing
  3. Waving my hands in the air like I just don’t care
  4. Getting accepted for archaeology digs
  5. The relief of finishing
  6. The prospect of a fresh new summer of experiences

At the end of junior year, my RA gave me her old couch. I had to be out of the building by noon, so I pushed it to the sidewalk. A tall and strong navy hopeful ex owed me a favor and was going to drive it across campus to where Bang would keep it over the summer and put it in her room for me. It must have been at least 90 degrees because I was wearing shorts, a tank top and flip flops, which are not really moving clothes. Bang and I sat on the couch, waiting for him to pull up in his Explorer Sport. It was too hot to talk, so we sat in the silence of an empty campus and thought. I had finished my work, I was off to Sicily for an amazing archaeological experience, I had a whole extra year to decide what to do with myself before graduation (the faintest glimmer in the far distance). We lounged on a broken-in loveseat in the shade of an emerald green sapling , without a care in the world other than moving a piece of furniture.

I think that’s what I miss most.

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2 comments

  1. Grace

    The rest of the Braff quote, from where you cut:

    “I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for you kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.”

  2. Kel The Younger

    Wow Mars! I knew we became really good friends as time went on, but I never knew you were “head over heels” for me! 😀

    Seriously, I do think this is one of your best posts. It’s not too wordy, but it still says a lot. I think it’s neat that you already have a “good old days” moment to hold onto. I wonder if everyone does, or if some are just so shallow that they don’t pay attention to their lives until it’s too late to remember it all…?

    One of my moments was the beginning of your junior year. I remember how excited I was to help you move into your dorm – it felt so good to have a friend I was looking forward to seeing again once I was back on campus. You helped me feel like I had a place there, since I had something (someone) to go to.

    I was thinking about what you said the other night, that you actually think of me when a certain song plays. I’ve been meaning to tell you how special that made me feel. Just like everyone deserves a moment, so too does everyone deserve a song – thanks for giving me one! 🙂

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