A moment lasts as long as it lasts and then the memory of it is like the mark left on a table by a cold glass, it is there and then it fades. An impression of something before.
Times that are gone.
This has been an empty space for days. A culaccino of its very own. I had so many intentions for it to be filled and now I unexpectedly have the time to make it into more, to write and reach out to people. My evenings, after two years of not being free, are now free to fill. I feel like the whole shape of my working week is completely different, there is space around the end of the days, space to breathe and relax and create. Time to pursue other things.
My mind has been resting on the past and all those things I used to do that made me happy. It has been good to think about what has been but with that has come a realisation that much of it can be no more. They are ‘gone times’. I could try to recreate them, but a part of me knows that they will never be the same again because they are moments from a particular phase in my life. The people, environment, my perceptions and maturity are all different.The fact they can be no more makes them all the more meaningful in my memory, because that is the only place they exist.
We have some beautiful words to capture that feeling.
Nostalgia…Returning in your imagination to before, an experience so strong that it evokes a feeling deep in the gut.
Saudade, the irrepressible knowledge that the old times become lost but the memory of the feeling is still there. An acceptance that the fuel of that feeling was poured into you a long time ago and a pool of it remains, an epilogue to that moment. It in some way continues to exist within me.
There are lot of things that I took for granted and viewed as every day, commonplace things but it is only when looking back that I know that they were things I retreated into to find something of myself.
A month or two ago, I went back to where I lived 20 years ago, I have not seen it since I was 6 years old. Yet, it felt like some part of me was going home. The part of me that longs, I use no exaggeration with the words ‘longs’ to be in countryside and in amongst nature. There is a crippling of that at the moment, I live in a gardenless, outdoorless flat in London. London has plenty of green spaces and bountiful parks but there are always people nearby and noise, behind every tree there is the shadow of a nearby building lurking. No space is your own, I don’t have my own space outside. And so there is never the space, and vastness, and knowing there is a world beyond humans, there isn’t a limitless horizon and it makes my soul feel a little trapped and deflated. When I returned to my home of 20 years ago, as I walked to it and through it, I felt like my soul was sitting up inside me and saying “yes”, this is the kind of place you belong, places like this feed you. But also an acknowledgement that I wouldn’t be living somewhere like this for some time because it isn’t right at this point in my life. It begins to make sense where my love for being outside and nature comes from, limitless days wandering through fields and woods with my brother with a freedom that belongs to childhood.
I miss my family playing cricket in the back-garden on a summer’s evening, over the fence was a six and hitting the fence a four. The disbelief on my brother’s face as My mum’s ‘pea-roller’ bowls bought his unbeatable batting reign of terror to an end.
Throwing the tennis ball as high as I could, watching it being swallowed into the blue above, lolloping up but hurtling back down to earth at twice the speed.
Whimsically floating around the garden, occupying myself by trying to to handstands and cartwheels, climbing trees and seeing how many times in a row, I could hit a tennis ball against the garage wall.
Learning to play tennis with th aptly named “Tennis Turner”; we reckoned he could hit a tennis ball so high it could definitely hit a plane if he wasn’t careful. Why does this suspense of belief have to be lost as I get older? It was definitely better when I believed a tennis ball could be hit that high.
Staring into the sea.
Writing music on the beautiful, black Boston pianos, (the sound they made was just right) knowing that the emotional need to write music then was greater than at any other point. I find myself not needing to now, its gone from a need to a want.
Sitting by the sea.
Coming home to Pooka, the highlight of my day, taking her for walks at 6am in the woods when there was nobody but us and the birds, hearing the reassuring noise of her sleeping when I woke in the middle of the night. Gone.
Imagination… imagining all kinds of make-believe scenarios; that the monkey bars in the playground were in fact a ship, that the mound at school was the home to a collection of warring mouse families, who on a daily basis had a series of dramas to deal with, and believing that I could carve out bits of soap and shake the shards of soap left to make messages from some mysterious source. How I miss this ability to turn anything in the world around me into something else much more meaningful. So goes our wonder at the world.
Singing in a choir, a really good choir. There is something that singing does that makes me think part of us are made for the purpose of singing, its the soul reminding us that it exists, saying hello. And when you are one voice that is part of a perfectly blended sound of beauty, echoing round a building that has stood for a thousand years, you feel part of the timelessness of something greater. Remembering singing evensong in York Minster, always just before Christmas, when the cobbled streets outside were dark by 5pm and inside the soft glow of lamps, singing into the dark corners of that vast building. The muffled noise from outside making me feel like I was in a cocoon of peace separate from the world and time. Repeating words and singing them in an order that had been repeated in that space, night after night, for the past 500 years. I miss the rehearsals; the chatter at the start as people arrived and then the silence as it began, then the focus and concentration as we sang one line over and over again until it was right, and then understanding the fullness of the music as different parts were added in. I can still listen to those pieces of music and know my alto part drummed into me all those years ago, note by note and word by word. I miss the sense of family of it, the jokes, the anticipation, the making of something together and the collective sense of achievement when we performed the music as more than just the notes on the page.
Chatting with Merts over a cup of tea, and hearing Peds hammering away on his computer keys, a somehow comforting noise.
Cycling to work when the sky was blue and my fingers too, puffs of air, silver lined grass and coldness taking my breath away.
I used to play hockey every single day of the week. Now, I don’t play. Playing in gale force winds, with hail raining down, numb legs and the will to keep going. Bone-tired and muscle-weary at the end but feeling like it had been the most alive two hours of the day. In one team in particular, we’d played with each other since we were six years old until we were eighteen, and so understood exactly how to play as a team, could read what each other would do and played with one mind . It was seamless and a joy to play, but like all these other things its a time I look back on with great fondness with an understanding that it can be no more. It is that clear absence of it from my here and now, that maybe allows me to remember it all so fondly.
I accept it as part of a certain phase of my life that I’ve moved on from and although, physically, those times will never be again a sense of them remains with and part of me, the feelings they evoke and the impression they made are still there. For me, that is nostalgia. I’m left with the realisation that as I live these days right now, there will be moments that at some point in the future I will be nostalgic about and so there is nothing to do but enjoy them now whilst they are here.