I’ve been back in the US for a month. The memories of my year in Durham have begun to fade ever so slightly; making it seem as though it were all a dream. I’ve fallen into a sort of routine here. Wake up. Go to CrossFit. Come home. Shower. Eat lunch. Do something semi-productive. Eat dinner. Go to bed. Repeat. Peppered in between are outings with friends and family. Those are the times I look forward to the most.
My year abroad though dream-like now, has certainly changed my perspective. I feel much closer to the people I left behind and being able to spend time with them has been very important. It has begun to make my return to England in January feel much more difficult than I had anticipated. I received word from Leicester that I have been accepted into the PhD programme and I accepted their offer last Friday. I can’t describe how excited I am to start a new adventure in a few months but it is bittersweet all the same.
I can’t get over this feeling of nostalgia I’ve had for the past two weeks. It began when I suggested to my parents that we visit my dad’s parent’s graves. I had never been to see them and I’ve been getting stuck into our family history and wanted very much to try to connect to the people I’ve been researching. Especially my grandfather as I never knew him. He served in both World Wars and was a Major by the end of WWII. I have only a few pictures of him and I know he was fluent in French (he was from Quebec) and that at one point he was a tailor and had taught my dad the proper way to iron trousers. We visited the cemetery and placed flowers on the graves.
A week later I felt ready to visit my grandmother’s grave. She passed away in January and I hadn’t been able to leave England to attend her funeral. My parents and I made plans to visit the cemetery. I must admit it felt odd standing at my grandmom’s grave. I had visited there many times to put wreaths on the stone for my grandfather, but this time it felt different. I couldn’t help thinking that under the ground my grandmother was lying there now. She is the first person I have been close to that has passed away and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was feeling.
We left the cemetery and went to meet up with some old family friends, John and Ollie. I have vivid memories of them and it had been a number of years since I had seen them last. I remember John always had me in stitches with his Donald Duck voice and Ollie was always filled with life. It was really great seeing them again and being able to connect with both of them as an adult. The feeling of nostalgia that had started a week before hit fever pitch on the drive home while my parents and I talked about “the good ole days.”
Nostalgia is a funny emotion. It is not at all a happy one. It is bittersweet and filled with a longing that can never really ever be realised. I began thinking about moving abroad again and an odd, overwhelming desire to hit the pause button on my life in the US struck me. I suppose in a way it is a very selfish feeling. I don’t want to miss anything. I don’t want to miss my nieces growing up, I don’t want to miss birthdays, I don’t want to miss Monday evening dinners at my friends Laurie and Lloyd’s house. It’s more than that though; it’s the odd feeling of time perpetually working its magic. It’s the not being able to rewind life just to get that taste that the hunger of nostalgia craves.
I do beg your pardon for the odd, slightly depressed nature of this post. To be honest, I’ve been really very happy over the past weeks. It has been brilliant seeing people, and connecting to everyone again. It is inevitable that in revisiting old stomping grounds that nostalgia would rear its head. If anything it reminds us that each moment is a really important and irreplaceable gift. I intend to make the most of the next few months here and when I move to Leicester, you better believe I’ll do my best to make every moment of those three years count.