late 18th century (in the sense ‘acute homesickness’): modern Latin (translating German Heimweh ‘homesickness’), from Greek nostos ‘return home’ + algos ‘pain’
“It scares me, suddenly, to know I can’t remember how home sounds. Not one bird call, nor the water over rocks. There’s so much you can’t save by writing down.” – Doris Betts, from “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” Beasts of the Southern Wild and Other Stories (Scribner, 1998)
“You still crave lemonade, but the taste doesn’t satisfy you as much as it used to. You still crave summer, but sometimes you mean summer, five years ago.” - Alida Nugent
What does the God of your childhood look like?
A soft apparition pigeoned in the
a wound eating you one year at a time?
My contention that trauma and nostalgia are crucially linked builds on the ideas of important late twentieth-century scholars. According to Linda Hutcheon, nostalgia ‘is the past as imagined, as idealized through memory and desire … but also [through] forgetting’. This constitutive dialectic between memory and forgetting likens nostalgia to the underlying tension of trauma, which Andreas Huyssen locates ‘on the threshold between remembering and forgetting, seeing and not seeing, transparency and occlusion’.
Nostalgia, similarly, is not about what was, but what can be forgotten, what might have been (but was not). (…) From the pressing and anxiety-provoking concerns of the present, the distant past of one’s childhood, or one’s nation, assumed increasingly idealizing contours. Homecoming was impossible, as Boym suggests, because home, in these retrospectively reconstructed terms, never existed. Home as such was not lost, but absent. ‘In terms of absence’, LaCapra argues, ‘one may recognize that one cannot lose what one never had.’ Yet one can certainly long for what one never had, even, or especially, if one converts absence into loss.
∆ Robert Hemmings, Modern Nostalgia: Siegfried Sassoon, Trauma and the Second World War, 2008.
It made me lonely. And when I say lonely, I mean the kind of loneliness that howls through you like a desert wind. It wasn't just the loss of people I had known but also the loss of myself. The loss of who I had been when I had been with them.