You open a draw in your kitchen. It is that drawer which is stuffed full of miscellany. While digging for the one random item you are sure you recently saw in there your hand touches a piece of paper. It crumples a bit as you free it from the jumble of stuff. Expecting it to be an old receipt or grocery list, you smile as it reveals mom's handwriting - that recipe she wrote down for you soon after you moved out.
You taste the food. You smell the kitchen of your childhood. So many senses fill your mind. You hear mom's voice talking you through the recipe over the phone. Her energy is there with you again, in your kitchen. All from holding her handwritten words in your hand. This is nostalgia - memories combined with your senses - transporting you to a moment and filling your soul with familiar feelings.
Written words are a personal experience; a time capsule of senses and inner voice.
My childhood was experienced under the warm, palm lined skies of northern Florida. One spectacular summer our family ventured out to explore the state - North to South, East to West. We would travel all the way to Key West and back. The thrill of many adventures and experiences awaited.
During our travels, we took photos. We laughed. We explored new places and tasted delicious flavors.
The sounds and smells of the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square, Key West, are vivid yet faint in my mind when I think back. This is where I first tasted fresh coconut which had just been split open with a machete and offered to tourists strolling down the landing.
The extraordinary idea of a celebration every evening, just for the sunset was a notion which filled my heart. This was evidence of humans savoring everyday occurrences just as I did. Taking in the moment and relishing it, though it would happen again tomorrow.
These moments are rich with vivid color and smells in my mind, yet I am missing details.
I cannot remember if I liked the flavor of the coconut. What was the texture like? I cannot remember the voice of the man shaving off samples to pass around. What did he say to us? There was live music but what type of music? What instruments were they playing? I cannot remember the many aromas of the evening. My mother always interacted with everyone she met. What funny things did she say that evening? Who did she talk to? How I wish I had stored these experiences on paper at the end of the day, in my own words.
Years later, I began putting my thoughts and moments on paper, in vivid description, not knowing I would venture back one day to relive feelings of those experiences.
Captured on paper in my handwriting are pleasant memories, times of trial, tears shed over heartache, joy over new love, turmoil over life decisions, and beautiful descriptive scenes of mountains I hiked during college and how crisp the air was to breathe. These memories became a new paradise I could revisit again and again.
There are so many details I would have now forgotten - nostalgia lost.
Memories are like reflections on a pond, some are crystal clear as if in a mirror while others have many ripples disrupting their clarity. A photograph can show only the scene, but written words capture the emotions of an experience - the thoughts and ideas swirling in our head during any given moment.
Capture it in words. Write down these wonderful moments. Refresh them again in your mind.
The beautiful gift of nostalgia waits. We must create it.