a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time: a nostalgia for his college days. (dictionary.com)
It's hard for me to visit my family without feeling at least a little nostalgia. I thought about this last night while I was in the car with my parents. We were on our way to a diner, and we were taking what I would consider to be the back route. It was dark, and there wasn't much traffic. My dad turned on the radio and we listened to The Prairie Home Companion, laughing together at the stories. It reminded me of other times we've traveled while listening to that show, usually coming home from visiting my grandparents. It's a familiar feeling, a safe feeling.
Sometimes I stop to think why I yearn so much for times in the past. My cousin Rachel wrote a blog about letting go of college, and I think she summed up that situation beautifully: "But living in the same rhythms, existing in the same place, this made understanding happen much more effortlessly than I think it does in the real world. " I miss being at the same stage of life as the people around me. That's why I miss college, even though anyone who knew me then knows that the end of my college years was pretty horrible for a number of reasons. That's why I miss high school, even though I often felt lonely and like I didn't quite fit in.
I think another part of nostalgia is that I know what life had in store for me at a point in the past. If I miss high school, part of what I miss is not being faced with adult responsibilities. Same goes for college. I have to plan things now that I didn't back then: save money for a new car when my current one breaks down, save money for the taxes I owe, save money in case I lose my job and am unemployed. I have to plan for emergencies now, and that makes me uneasy, because I don't like not being in control or not knowing what could happen.
The more I focus on trusting God, on enjoying the people who are around me, the more I am able to put aside my worries and be content. When I find myself longing for security, I remind myself that God is in control no matter what comes my way. When I find myself missing the rhythms of life in school, I try to remind myself that life was not perfect then, and I have some wonderful friends right now.
So I'll enjoy the time with my family. I'll enjoy the reminders of our shared history. But then I'll go back home and attempt to enjoy my life as it is now. I will see people I love, I will laugh with my friends, and I will do my best to remember that God is in control.