06 August 2007

Nostalgia Isn't Always a Pain

The Wikipedia---that bastion of quick reference (and occasionally dubious sources) on the net---has this to say about nostalgia: The term was originally coined in 1688 by Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), a Swiss medical student. The word is made up of two Greek roots (νόστος = nostos = returning home, and άλγος = algos = pain/longing), to refer to "the pain a sick person feels because he wishes to return to his native land, and fears never to see it again." In today's common parlance it is a feeling, a yearning for a lost time and place, usually located in the near past. Homesickness is often given as a synonym for nostalgia.

This is the week my 20th high school reunion is scheduled. I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic, although I would hardly call myself "homesick." You must understand that the majority of my public school years were spent with a class of less than 60 others. So many years together provided an odd sense of siblinghood...a bond of experience and background that no one else has.

We had a reunion at 10 years. A glorious one that, for me, still stands as one of my favourite moments of adulthood. It took place over the July 4th holiday weekend. I remember catching up with friends at the town celebration in the park, meeting their spouses and/or children. It felt good to reconnect with something I thought had been lost. Some feeling that couldn't be recaptured.

I'm not one of these people who thinks my high school years were my best years. I don't want to go back and relive them. But there is something in being able to spend time again with people who share my history...who know a "me" that no one here knows. This is what I'm feeling nostalgic for at the moment. If nostalgia is supposed to engender pain, then call me a masochist. The thought of this particular event makes me smile.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

Are you going to the reunion? I'm in suspense!

The Science Goddess said...

Oh, I'll be there. How could I resist? :)

East Coast Teacher said...

Enjoy the reunion - I'm supposed to have my 10 year sometime this year, but who knows when our (former) class officers will get their act together.

I missed out on my 5 year because I was in the Midwest, though it was held in the corner of local bar, so I know I didn't miss that much.