Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nostalgia

You may not know this about me, but I tend to be a nostalgic person. This is the paradox that is Samantha: being a tough guy without feelings and at times being extremely nostalgic and sentimental. My eyes will fill with tears when I hear the first notes being played by the West Virginia marching band at a football game. My family lived in Madison, West Virginia for less than two years in 1986-87. When I hear any song from that time (my siblings and I call them "Madison songs"), I feel a tightness in my chest (especially if it's Broken Wings by Mr. Mister.)

Now that I have a child I find myself being more nostalgic and weepier than ever. Putting his newborn clothes in the basement was heart wrenching. Every time he reaches a milestone I'm so thrilled he's on target and immediately sad that's he's growing up so fast. It's made me more reflective and appreciative of life in general.

Last night I was walking home from a dinner just before 8 pm. It rained while I was at the Lansing Center, and the air smelled like spring. I immediately flashed back to the first spring I lived in Michigan. I was newly in love and a new runner, and that spring held more promise than any has before or since. I lived in a great apartment in downtown Grand Ledge, and I would head out after work in the spring rain and log 2-3 miles. At that time it was the most I'd ever run. I'd feel so tired and accomplished, and at that time I had no idea that I'd marry the new boyfriend and be a dedicated (mostly) runner nearly a decade later. Last night walking home in the beautiful rays of the setting sun feeling the crisp spring air made me wistful for the spring of 2006, a time I didn't realize would hold such a powerful connection to where my life is now.

A beautiful, rainy spring evening

When I returned from maternity leave in February I moved from lobbying to take over as president of our foundation. I always loved the game of lobbying, and I was pretty good at it. But the opportunity to really focus on what I love about communities was too compelling, and I'm so happy I made this change. I haven't really thought about lobbying or missed it (mostly because I've been so busy). Last week, on one of my rare days in the office, I walked downtown to grab something for lunch. It was a legislative session day, and there were people everywhere. I saw several legislators and lobbyists I know, and I felt this pang of nostalgia. I realized how disconnected I was from the legislature, and in the age of term limits it won't be long before many of the connections I have move on to other positions. I felt my heart be clutched by nostalgia, a surprising kind of feeling to blindside you walking to lunch on an idle Thursday afternoon.

I am not the kind of person who has regrets or spends time on what could have been, so this intense nostalgia can be challenging for me to process. The incomparable fashion maven Miuccia Prada said, "Nostalgia is a very complicated subject for me. I'm attracted by nostalgia, but I refuse it intellectually." This resonates with me - my nostalgic feelings are attractive, but they don't make sense or have a place for me intellectually. Yet fighting it doesn't seem to work either. 

I've learned that sometimes waxing nostalgic is good for the psyche. It's good to be reminded of the events in life that make us who we are. Becoming a runner, being a lobbyist, falling in love are all things that have shaped who I am. You never know at the time when what moments will become treasured memories. I guess it's best to soak them all in.

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