Anywhere But Here: Nostalgia City

Sometimes everything is fine. Life is good. You’re having a great day. The sun is out and the sky is blue. But you wish someone was with you to experience it. For example, I used to do a lot of driving. When I lived in North Carolina I would drive to from Asheville to Winston-Salem fairly regularly or when I moved back home from college, my mom’s house was about a 25-30 minute drive from anywhere I wanted to be. I’ve also driven across the country a couple times by myself. Some people talk on the phone. Others listen to books on tape (youngsters refer to these as audiobooks). I, on the other hand, talk to myself primarily.

It always starts like this: I’m in a fantastic mood. I’m full of energy. The music I’m listening to makes me want to dance. I wish someone was in the car with me so I could point to all sorts of things. This feeling is strongest when I’m driving through my hometown. I’m happily driving down a familiar road and I want to share this moment with someone. I want to show them my favorite spots and the places I always look at. I want to describe the people who live in these houses and the experiences I’ve had in this neighborhood or that one.

After college, some of the friends I studied abroad with came to visit. In the months that I was anticipating their visit I would pretend they were in the car with me and I was giving them a tour. “Here is my high school. Over here is where we used to go to music shows. This is where you want to get ice cream.” These are ridiculously small details about a place that aren’t actually good tourist destinations. They’re the little bits of my life. Things that made up my life experience.

Now, when I drive around Austin, I might pretend I’m driving with my mom to show her what neighborhoods are good for walking. Or I’ll show my sister some shops I think she’d like. Even when I went home to NC I pretended the Alaska boy was in the car with me, pretending to care as I pointed out places or things only of interest to me.

There’s something special about sharing your home (old or new): favorite spots, memories or bits of gossip. It’s so incredibly satisfying to me. It stems, I’m sure, from the same place that makes me create scrapbooks and frame photos. I’ve noticed fewer people have photos of their friends or family on their walls anymore. I assume, this is because they can get online at any time and see 700 pictures of their loved ones. But there’s something about having the faces of those I can’t regularly see on the walls of my home that makes it a home at all.

So, it may be silly but being nostalgic is one of my favorite places to be.

This is what you would see if you were in the car with me.

This is what you would see if you were in the car with me.


This is Tyler and I when we went to visit our homes together for the first time.


These are the sorts of photos that are made when Australians and Canadians come to visit me in NC. Yes, those attractive silly folks on the left are my parents.


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