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.