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Nostalgia

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The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. […] Czechs have the Greek-derived nostalgie as well as their own noun, stesk, and their own verb; the most moving, Czech expression of love: styska se mi po tobe (“I yearn for you,” “I’m nostalgic for you”; “I cannot bear the pain of your absence”). In Spanish añoranza comes from the verb añorar (to feel nostalgia), which comes from the Catalan enyorar, itself derived from the Latin word ignorare (to be unaware of, not know, not experience; to lack or miss), In that etymological light nostalgia seems something like the pain of ignorance, of not knowing. […] Certain languages have problems with nostalgia: the French can only express it by the noun from the Greek root, and have no verb for it; they can say Je m’ennuie de toi (I miss you), but the word s’ennuyer is weak, cold — anyhow too light for so grave a feeling. The Germans rarely use the Greek-derived term Nostalgie, and tend to say Sehnsucht in speaking of the desire for an absent thing. But Sehnsucht can refer both to something that has existed and to something that has never existed (a new adventure), and therefore it does not necessarily imply the nostos idea; to include in Sehnsucht the obsession with returning would require adding a complementary phrase: Sehnsucht nach der Vergangenheit, nach der verlorenen Kindheit, nach der ersten Liebe (longing for the past, for lost childhood, for a first love).

I know I can look back on all the letters you wrote me, our correspondences from what seems like so long ago, and see a different you; one that by the end, I couldn’t recognize or even remember. It’s funny how everything entrophies in the end, that we can be stuck in a stagnant state and not realize it until we look back and see that everything fell short of our expectations. It’s funny how I can be so nostalgic for something that doesn’t even matter.

I do not want to end up like my parents constantly waiting for things to change. I think my mom is heartbroken that my dad does not remember how they met: how he waited for her to finish work so that he could lie to her and say that he was just passing by, and end up spending so much time with her that he missed the metro and had to walk home, catching a cold from the cool Paris air.

Written by greenseamonkeys

July 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm

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