Sunday, March 17, 2019

Nostalgia

Once at Grand Central (M.A. Reilly)
I. 

"Hun? Could you read your section of the paper and let me read mine?" I ask Rob hoping he'll stop reading aloud.
    
"Ok. Ok," he answers. He takes a sip of coffee and returns his eyes to the page. A few minutes later I hear him say, "You have to hear this..."

Even though a bulk of the Sunday NewYork Times arrived along with Saturday's paper, we tended to save it all for Sunday morning. Rob would inevitably read aloud whole articles and though I would grumble some Sundays, the truth we each knew was that I loved to hear him read and he did so often. 


II. 

David Whyte in Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words explains nostalgia:

Nostalgia is not indulgence. Nostalgia tells us we are in the presence of imminent revelation, about to break through the present structures held together by the way we have remembered: something we thought we understood but that we are now about to fully understand, something already lived but not fully lived, issuing not from our future but from something already experienced; something that was important, but something to which we did not grant importance enough, something now wanting to be lived again, at the depth to which it first invited us but which we originally refused. Nostalgia is not an immersion in the past, nostalgia is the first annunciation that the past as we know it is coming to an end.

I read this and pause, knowing that the writing today--this story of a Sunday morning newspaper reading is wrapped in nostalgia. It is bringing me somewhere I haven't named before and that is part pain and part gift, but they are not equal.


III. 

I realize this morning that I want grief to be a simple math problem I can solve. I write in the margin of a book I shared with Rob: 

sorrow is negated by 1 remembrance of love.  

I know this is not always a truth. I reread Whyte's words, halting a bit to reread: 

"Nostalgia is not an immersion in the past, nostalgia is the first annunciation that the past as we know it is coming to an end."

Grieving is less about time passing and more about grace--about accepting how the past as I knew it, is no more. I don't think I could have known that 3 years ago.  There's a thoroughness with which I remember these days. Those bits of recalled stories, some days, lead to new understandings. 


IV.

Rob told me years ago the only way out of something is through it. The last few weeks I have been in tune with the immense loss, the life I am making now, and the changes Dev and I have been through. 

After Rob died:

We had to break. We had to break apart. We had no center to hold.We had to break and then begin to heal. 

To be whole again we needed to break. Not just ourselves, but also what was between us.

As I remember once again, I note the many triggers that bring me back to Rob just the last three days: 
a lecture I attended on Friday, the notice that Lawrence Lessig is speaking nearby soon, a quiet meal a few blocks from where Rob worked in Hell's Kitchen, the way the light slants in the weeks before spring officially arrives, the noise of birds who have return to build nests, the smell of coffee, a man reading softly to the woman next to him on the train--their heads tilted towards one another, the sound of a hearty laugh, a song we loved that comes on the radio, a couple holding hands, a father and son,most everything Dev does.

V.

I read the paper online now--even Sunday's. 

This morning, I miss the smell of ink from the magazine section, the weight of the book review, and the sound of Rob reading aloud.  

6 comments:

  1. I agree with Whyte. Since "being retired," I've experienced much nostalgia. I've found it to always precede an acceptance of finality. I'm surprised things that once triggered nostalgia are sometimes nearly now forgotten. And yet the new never seems to carry the weight of the old.

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    1. The new can’t as its fullness is limited by time,I suspect. I love Whyte’s books.so wise.

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  2. Mary Ann, I paused when I read 3 years ago...it has been that long since I started our online friendship. I have been remiss in reading your journal writing. This one is particularly touching because nostalgia has a longing to go back, realizing that we cannot be placed back in time. It is a haunting process to piecemeal thoughts and make sense of them in the present. As Always, I wish the best for you and Dev.

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    1. Thank you Carol. Always appreciate your support. Grateful.

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  3. Following your journey is quite a privilege...

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