Nostalgia is an odd emotion, “a wistful affection for a period in the past.” Despite travelling on and off for over a decade, that nostalgia, that sense of lingering attachment, doesn’t disappear. An old photo, a few notes of a song, the tones of a foreign tongue: that’s all it takes to momentarily move back in time.
An acclaimed author (and poet and playwright) got me thinking about this last month, when I interviewed him in New York’s Bryant Park. “It’s the same place, but different; you’re the same person, but different,” he mused on the topic of revisiting a place you’ve been before. It seems a simple sentiment, but it’s acute on all levels.
I had felt it as I walked through the sunny city streets to meet him, thinking back to the busy summer when I knew this high-rise island like the back of my hand. It was impossible to avoid last week in Philadelphia, where I watched my friends prepare to graduate from the leafy, red-brick city campus we first experienced together.
Chowing down in Chinatown transported me to this time last year, when I was devouring as many dumplings as possible in advance of my imminent exit from Asia. Recently, nostalgia has been creeping around every corner.
That’s what happens when you travel. You become almost homesick: not for the corner of the world you left behind, but the one you found. And most of all, homesick for the people that made the place what it is. Because really, what would travelling be without the people you share the journey with?
Do you ever get nostalgic while you travel? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.