01 April 2007

Nostalgic for a Place I've Never Been

"How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a place I've never known?"

This is a line (roughly) from the movie Motorcycle Diaries. It struck me hard when I saw a segment last year. I feel nostalgic all the time for no apparent reason and no apparent place or time.

I often miss the days of my childhood. I was well cared for and naive about the world. I grew up on a rural farm with more animals than friends. It was a good youth. I often wish to be twelve again. Or eight.

Most of the time, especially in March, I miss Mexico. Four of the five times I've been there were in March. So when the smell of warm earth reaches me, or the feel of the spring sun on my back I think of walking the dusty paths of the Barranca del Cubre. I think of working long hours in the hot sun just to help someone. I think of sleeping out under myriad stars on a crisp cold night. I think of waking up with shards of frost clinging to my sleeping bag. It is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Other times I simply feel nostalgic for nothing that I can pinpoint. I feel lonely and neglected and I feel that I'm missing something important.

As I prepare to go to Kenya, my one thought is how I want to stay longer. I've never even been there and I already miss it. I already dread returning home. I already know I will go back. How is it that such a feeling can be so strong? How can feelings of unmistakable nostalgia rule my thoughts?

Again, I ask myself if it is just selfishness. Do I simply want to be somewhere, anywhere that is not here? Why is it that I miss Mexico when I'm in the US and never my mum when I'm at school or in another country? What is it in me that yearns to travel with no constraints?

People think they know me, they say "you're young, things will change in time." They may be right, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel this now. School is a prison for me. Instead of filling my mind with useful information, it fills me with dread and even repulsion. I feel so restrained.

Writing is my only outlet while incarcerated. And writing is something I don't do very much of lately. With written words I can convey so much more than speaking. My fingers are more closely connected to my brain than my mouth. From my pen (read keys) flow my thoughts in perfect syntax. Or so I like to think.

But what does it matter that I write, or that perhaps I can do so well? What does it mean that I want to spend my life in travel and writing? That's not a career. Don't say journalism. I might glare, you don't want that.

So with absolutely no trepidation whatsoever, I prepare to take a jaunt across the pond to a poverty stricken country. I am fully prepared to think not once of Silt or of CCU. I'm also quite sure that I will selfishly hate my existence when I return three weeks later. I am nostalgic for a place I've never been.

Just like Che.


Charlotte said...

Larz, I totally want to cry... no bawl!! I know what you mean.

Anonymous said...

your description of nostalgia fits mine perfectly...and when I saw the motorcycle diaries, that was the one line that stuck in my mind as well. I have a burning desire to visit some places I have no connection to. I feel nostalgic about the past, even the present and that time is going by, and I feel nostalgic whenever I think of Cuba, even though I'm not Cuban and have never been there.