I’ve been feeling a lot of nostalgia lately, or perhaps, comfort in the familiar.
For instance, I saw a fox while I was out running about a month ago. Looking at it, it brought me back to the outdoor trip I led with my current roommate several years ago, a freshman orientation trip doing trail work on Mount Yale. This trip would solidify our friendship and also reveal to me that the fox is my spirit animal. Ever since that trip, I have seen foxes pretty regularly, and it usually happens while running. There’s a strange connection I feel when I see them. We seem to lock eyes, and it’s almost as if I am Mr. Fox, gazing in awe at the wolf at the end of Fantastic Mr. Fox, the movie. The spell always breaks when we start to run separate ways.
There’s also comfort in having the same conversations with the same people, even though nothing new is uttered. My dad’s and my agreement that Yoko Ono is simply “the worst” comes to mind.
There’s comfort in knowing exactly what’ll cheer you up when you’re down. Mine is ice cream. There is little in this world that can’t be brightened, in my opinion, by a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
There is comfort in old songs that you’ve heard countless times — even the ones you don’t like. I distinctly remember when Taylor Swift released the song, “Blank Space,” my best friend at boarding school played it incessantly. She lived in the single next to mine, so I could hear it playing non-stop. And I’m not exaggerating when I say non-stop; her iTunes said she had played it 600 times. A couple weeks ago, I downloaded a playlist honoring breakout female artists for Women’s History Month. When “Blank Space” came up on shuffle, I couldn’t help but smile and sing along.
There’s comfort in a little déjà vu. Whenever I walk around Colorado Springs, I am always peeved by certain traffic signals. Why? Because the walking man icon is irrefutably a little “doughy” on some of them. In other words, he looks more like the Pillsbury Dough Boy than the stick figure he normally is. Every time I see him, I recall the times that I have tried to point this obvious fact to my friends, just for them to shrug and not care. I suppose they have every right not to care, but I want them to concede that I’m right, and they never do. At least they’re consistent.
There’s a term for nostalgia for a time you’ve never known, which I’ve seen on probably too many blogs: anemoia. As dumb as it may sound, I’ve been experiencing it a lot when I run around neighborhoods in the Springs in the early morning. I see couples walking their dogs, coffee cups in hand, as the sun rises. I feel myself eased by the sight, as if I’m looking at myself from a past or future life, but I also find myself yearning to be at that place in my life: walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand with a significant other, walking our chocolate lab, Ringo, and witnessing the world waking up. Yet there’s comfort in that feeling, too.
Most of all, I have been comforted by visiting my grandparents, fully vaccinated as of mid-February, in Longboat Key, Florida. They’ve owned a condo there since 1985, and I’ve visited nearly every year of my life since I was a child. The condo feels frozen in time; the bedspreads, the view out of the screened deck, the breakfast nook, the circular stepping stones to the bridge to the beach. Nothing changes there, and that’s precisely why I love it so much. I don’t have to second-guess anything. Everything is as familiar as the back of my hand.
And so, a week ago, I went running along this beach I know by heart, listening to my “Time Capsule” playlist on Spotify. I dashed into the Gulf of Mexico and dunked myself in the warm condominium pool. And then I went back up to the condo, where I watched a livestream of my favorite band, performing the same songs I’ve always listened to for years, with the same dance moves and riffs that I’ve seen in concert over and over. I have reveled in everything that feels known and close to me lately. Maybe this is why I struggle so much with change; I often really like how things have been.