Nostalgia isn’t just a feeling, it’s a crash of emotions that befalls you when it’s the most unexpected. Not just homesickness, but a mix of remembrance and sadness, as you’re only nostalgic when you are not home, stranded, helpless.
Nostalgia may be a current of water. It flows from your head to your stomach, then back to your eyes, uncontrollable, rolling out like a waterfall. Sometimes you don’t realize its existence until your mouth takes a sip of that salty drop.
You’d laugh at your woe and call it odd, but the current will not halt. So I comfort myself. Don’t cry, child, for you don’t have time for it now.
Nostalgia is more than a feeling. I hope whoever has it can return to their loved ones in a short while.
Nevertheless, will you still miss your home, if your lover is stranded as well?
(I’m a Chinese international student in the US. Because of certain policies that were made for the coronavirus, I cannot go back home. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to meet my family and friends. The uncertainty is a real menace, it’s eating me alive. What if something happens to someone whom I love while I’m overseas? What if at the end of the day I’m left behind as the only one living? The uncertainty is killing me. I hope everything goes well in China, I hope there’ll be an antidote for this madness. I feel really helpless and overwhelmed because there’s literally nothing I could contribute to better the situation, I could only sit and watch the number of infected and deaths go up and wish that my circle of people has nothing to do with it. It’s truly rotten when you are a spectator of your fellow countrymen’s deaths.
I just hope things go well. I’m praying for a change.)
Sometimes I feel really young when I look at the experiences I have compared to the experiences I have not been through. I might seem like I am naive by saying this but I love where I am at with my relationships currently. This is an evaluation of all my current relationships as a seventeen-year-old:
When I am with you,
You take me out of my fixed headspace
That can sometimes be crippling
You talk with purpose, even if it is to yourself, it means something.
You make me feel like Stevie Wonder when he talks about the people he loves,
unconditionally and without limitations.
you give me relief and let me express myself without shame
which is something that i have lacked in my past relationships
i look at the little things like your laugh
and the way you smile at the things that make you happy,
i look at the things that make you mad or irritated
i look at the touch from your hands and your tenderness
it’s weird that i feel this way cause i have lost so much in the last couple of months. But, i can always control how i feel. that’s something that my mother taught me.
To conclude: You make me happy, in a giddy, platonic way.
Before I was proficient, understanding language, my dreams would be primarily in symbols (I wasn’t a very verbal child). Now I’ve never written this down or spent much time reflecting on it, but from around the time I was 3 to the time I was 9 or 10 I would have very odd, indescribable dreams; a single, short line, accompanied by a circle and a square I believe would race around the room I would sleep in while remaining totally silent. And at moments I would hear a deep buzzing that I could not describe, the racing became more intense and increasingly antagonizing while appearing exactly the same. An unnerving simplicity that I didn’t understand frightened me beyond my greatest beliefs and I couldn’t describe them to my family for the life of me, haunting me for years after I stopped having them.
I used to live in a three-story house. To be fair it was a house divided down the middle with a wall so it could house two families, but regardless it felt large to the small child that I was. My house had an area where the stairs, which were all right above each other, and near the basement, there was an entrance to my dad’s office which was leveled slightly below the ground floor of the house but still sheltered slightly from the basement. And in the mornings or late afternoons when things were dark, but not enough to turn lights on, that area would have a shadowy appearance that terrified me. So sometimes, I dreamt that I was standing there, alone, in the early morning, when my parents were still in bed an eternity away on the third floor of my house, I would be frozen on that landing, surrounded by shadows and uncertainty, where I would hear a despaired howling, like one would hear on the Alaskan tundra on a cold winter night, but unnervingly human. And I would be unable to escape that desperate gale-forced cry, and then it would just end.
Sometimes, I find myself being guided through life through the wisdom of songs. From songs that don’t have lyrics to songs that only have lyrics, melodies will always lay a path for me to follow. Being 17, I have a lengthy list of songs that have shaped me.
As by Steve Wonder has taught me how to love the people through all four seasons, through thick and thin, through the mysteries of tomorrow. I learned how to love, always.
Man in the Mirror, MJ; This song was, in my memory, the first song that highlighted the less fortunate. At a young age, I realized how blessed I was to have a roof over my head and a full plate of food 3 times a day.
All for You, homegirl, Janet; The “I just wanna have a fun” song of the 2000s.
Superwoman by Alicia Keys. I am SUPERWOMAN, yes I am and yes she is! Alicia, thank you for teaching me that being a woman is super! I have never been more proud!
Fade Into You, Mazzy Star; The song that sends me into a mindset of creativity, and lets me let go of the worries from the day like fading into a different dimension of my mind.
Cobrastyle by Teddybears takes me to Venice, California, windows down, with my father behind the wheel and my brother in the passenger seat.
Me, Myself and I by Beyonce makes me believe in the power of me. I do not need a man to support myself, fuel myself, provide for myself, or feel good about myself.
This is just a mere look into my childhood but each of these songs are inspiring and evoke vivid images of happiness. From my mother dancing in the living room to my dad telling my brother about his latest music find, my family has inspired my preference in music and I am proud.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
From the smell of fresh baked goods always circulating the house to the comfort of a warm bed, the idea of home sparks warmth and happiness, and I have been so lucky to consider my home in that way.
The white door that creeks and the roof that leaks is where I find home currently, but I have a vision of where I want to be or see myself once I have finished growing up.
Being a mix of all cultures, the Philippines in itself represents me. Living in a higaonon hut on one of the several islands, I would devour salty chicken adobo and lumpia.
Settling into my home, I would write in my journal about the culture that I experienced that day while looking out from my hut into the orange sunset reflecting off the ocean.
With beams of warm colors bouncing off the water, I would feel my late grandmother and her mother, wrapping their arms around me with their soft, delicate arms. Eventually, I will feel a sense of comfort and understanding of my surrounding culture.
Living the simple life and knowing my roots, I would sense closure and be able to flee to my new home in San Fransisco, California.
Even though I was not born there, my roots are in California and more specifically, San Francisco. Like my little Filipino grandmother, I would come from the Philippines and go to the Golden City.
My fate would bring me to the perfect two bedrooms and bathroom apartment on the seventh floor having an auburn red door. Decorated with poems written by my father, my apartment would have the smell of essential oils embedded into the walls, specifically lavender representing my mother’s spirituality.
This would be my sanctuary where tears would be shed, laughs would explode, and love would be felt.
The Mission district, where my brother was born, would give light to the art forward theme that I created in all the rooms but made sure that every area had its own distinctive flair.
Wanting to explore more about my culture and ancestors, I would travel to the plains of Africa. Settling down in Nairobi, Kenya, where the lifestyle is filled with the history of the Bantu people and the Swahili language, my home would be in a Kikuyu house with no rooms.
Compared to my other homes, I would be connected with the earth where elephants and antelopes have carried their children on their migratory voyage.
This home would give me insight to my African heritage before Europeans came into their territory, before slavery, and before segregation. Instead of learning about the hardships of my culture, I will learn about the rich tradition that the country brings.
I have always been a homebody. I find extreme comfort with the idea of my home and enjoy its atmosphere. I am excited to see where my future home may be.
As I have grown older, I have danced around with my faith in God. My extended family is very Catholic. Like, so Catholic that my great grandparents had fifteen children.
Both my mother and father grew up in the church. With families that wholeheartedly believe in God and Catholic values, there was little room to be different and your own person with different values and morals. My parents saw flaws in this system and didn’t raise my brother and me in the church.
Now, as my relationship with God is pretty non-existent, I wonder about the strength in religion and the power of spirituality. Around the world, there are all these varying forms of praying to a higher power(s) in order to feel something like happiness, clarity, or reassurance.
My aunt is currently sick. And I am waiting for a miracle.
My family has urged people to pray to keep her alive and healthy. But, is that legit and enough?
We have been praying for months.
We have been watching the sickness take over her.
We have watched the weight drop off her like the tears that run off our faces when thinking about her future.
We are putting our hopes and prayers on one person and what is He doing to save her?
But, I pull myself back from this cycle of negativity and think about her, just her. I think about her needs, what she wants right now.
She lived and lives a beautiful life.
She is surrounded by people who love her and will be for eternity.
She has made hundreds of people smile.
My sentiments on prayer and putting all your hopes on one figure can be pushed out the window. For now, I will pray because I know that is what she believes in.
Lately, I find myself complaining quite frequently. Whether it is about people or the clothes I am wearing, I find something to dislike about the situations I put myself in. But really, I am thankful for everything that this world has given me.
I am grateful for water. The water that cleans my soul of the dirt from my day. The water that keeps my skin glowing and my body fueled.
I am blessed for the music that you have gifted me. The music that brings my spirits up and gives me new ideas. The music that bonds my family together as we sit in the living room and discuss.
I am thankful to have travelled across the nation.
I am grateful for the friends that support me through thick and thin. Who fill me with laughter and joy.
I am thankful for my teachers who are guiding me through my adolescence, making sure I don’t screw up.
I am blessed to have been raised in California with the sandy beaches and the warm weather.
I am thankful for the food that represents my culture like the salty Filipino food that my grandmother would make me.
I am blessed for my rights in this nation as I am able to speak my mind and express my feelings whenever.
I express my gratitude to the land, the elements, and the people that surround me.
This one will be a lot shorter than the last one I promise.
Nearly two years ago, I was camping with OVS, 15 of us out in the sandstone canyons of Utah, unspeakably peaceful. In fact, I enjoyed the tranquility of that small, isolated river valley so much, I decided to spend the night in my hammock so that I could swing as the whirling breeze carried me to sleep. However, that night was a wild one for me and you’ll soon understand why.
Around 10 o’clock I get into my hammock, laying down as I watch the moon rise over the other side of the valley, a few stranglers dragging themselves into their tents, and I decided to retire as well. Maybe three hours later if I remember it correctly, I awaken to the sound of voices coming from the kitchen area, they all seem to be laughing, having a great time, then I look at my watch and it reads one o’clock. INSTANTLY I freeze- this isn’t right, I say to myself as I peak towards the opening in my sleeping bag, the absence of light confirming my suspicions.
I try to play it off as a dream, my dream continued even after I awoke, I tell myself unconvincingly, the voices are incredibly vivid, I can hear their laughter bouncing against my eardrums, it has to be real. A few minutes pass and they begin to call my name, like the sirens that taunted Odysseus on his travels, I too was being deceived, their welcoming calls making me all the wearier. I am fully awake now.
The minutes crawl by as these voices continue, situations changing constantly, from their beckons for me to get breakfast, to claims of me missing out on a glance at a nearby fox, they become eerier. These voices, maintaining their soothing tones, vary in their distances from me, somethings being five feet away, sometimes their voices traveling for seeming leagues before reaching me. But don’t doubt my account yet, because it only gets worse. After maybe 20 minutes of the voices, I begin to feel something brushing up against my swaying hammock intermittently. This feeling of helplessness consumes me as I can only fumble for the pocket knife buried somewhere in my sleeping bag (I sleep with one while camping now after that first encounter).
My senses take over and my imagination runs wild, the voices grow stronger, and with only the light of my watch reading 2:15 to convince me of my awakened state, I can’t help but feel as if a man is standing over me, watching my hammock sway, letting it brush against him in the periodic gusts. I can’t believe what is happening to me, the winds continue, but they don’t blend with the voices, they still call me to reveal myself, to emerge from my safe place, my empty tent four feet away, but impossibly out of reach. I feel a large round object protruding from the darkness against the left side of my back, maybe a foot away from where the man must be standing, the object stabilizes me, I cannot move now.
Maybe the winds pushed me into a branch, jutting from the sickly tree holding up the feet side of my hammock, further inspection the next morning revealed that there were none near me. I am trapped in my own sleeping bag, unable to find my knife, unable to escape the voices, the man, the fear that’s overtaken me. I lay still in this sweaty hell until 3 am as I remember it, then I must drift off at some point, exhausted by the sheer terror I felt that night.
The next morning I approach my classmates, bemused as to what transcribed the previous night, upon recounting my tale, I am met with blank stares, concerned faculty, and one bright face. One teacher, my advisor, recounts a story of a man and his donkey, this man traveled into this river valley in Utah some 80 years before and was never seen from again. He suggests that this man tried to beckon me out of my hammock for a companion to wander the endless nights of these canyonlands, the voices were his attempts, the brushing was the man standing beside me, and the object jutting into my back was the donkey, standing loyal at the man’s side.
I don’t know what I believe, I don’t believe that I could ever believe that story my advisor told me, but if you ever find yourself in the desert, and you hear the voices of your compatriots, calling you into the night, take heed of my warning, but make your own choice, for if I were to return and hear them again, I may just see what the endless nights have to offer.
Also, I slept in a tent the next night, wasn’t about to lose another nights sleep to a ghost donkey.