In the past few months, I’ve been experiencing deep nostalgia. No, more than nostalgia. I’ve been hit head-on by a sense of profound longing and reflection. It began when I started working with the kids at my church back in June. We were all working on setup before VBS, and I suddenly realized how much I wanted to be five again. That continued until August, at which point we started preparing for camp with the older kids. It was then that I started wishing I was a camper again. When school started in September, I was overcome with longing for my freshman year. It feels almost like homesickness. As time fades on, I engage with a different period of my life that directly correlates to the season or situation. I start obsessing over my own past, ruminating on anything that went right and everything that went wrong. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it provides me with more opportunities for introspection. I can’t say it’s good, either. Maybe this wistfulness is a natural part of aging. My mind simply has to catch up to the present moment.
Oh, fifth and sixth grade. I was the girl who put milk in her salad, talked to herself, and paced the playground all alone with a clipboard, making line graphs of YouTube view statistics for a band that I’d made up in my own bursting mind. And actually, I didn’t even like outdoor recess like all the normal kids. I liked indoor recess so I could have unlimited loose leaf, pencils, and a whole work space for my writing and universe-creating. I was the girl who would break into spontaneous song and dance, the girl who cried all the time, the girl who lagged behind in gym class. I was the poet, the one who saw the world through rosy glasses.
And, like in the picture, I loved winter. I loved spring. I loved fall and summer. In fact, there were few things I didn’t love.
Have I really changed all that much? (Except for the milk in the salad. I don’t do that anymore.)
I miss summertime.
I miss sipping powdered orange juice with my feet in glowing, tepid lake water. I miss the buzz of fireflies in my cupped hands. I miss when the days were long and the shorts were short. I miss looking up at a velvety night sky sprayed with starry sequins. I even miss the itch of grass and the burn of black pavement under my bare feet.
There was nothing to worry about. I had metaphorical wind at my back, days and days to waste like water, and sunshine melting on my skin. I had a sad, wistful air about me, but in a carefree way. I could wipe my tears away with flower petals, then toss them away into the forgiving July breezes. Birds would always serenade me in the morning, never waking me before I’d completely rested.
It is nearly November. I can feel the winter breathing in the morning, rustling the leaves off their branches. Winter is coming. It stomps and screams and threatens, a bed of razor-sharp knives below me as time lets go and watches me fall. I am bracing myself for gray skies, trees stripped of their colors, runny noses and too-thick parkas, flakes of snow drifting to the ground only to melt into wet drizzle on the sidewalks.
I can feel winter breathe in the autumn air.