I have been writing of sorts, but without a story. I supposed I haven’t even been outside much this summer due to disaster. The gulf oil spill ruined good plans for salt-water fishing, and the flood in Nashville ruined the good fishing here until recently, and I haven’t been out much since it has returned. I haven’t written anything because I feel like there is nothing to say. Vegetables are beautiful this year, especially the Tomatoes. I feel as though they are little miracles, and the longer we wait on that deep red, the more satisfying they are. I don’t have that romantic sense about gardening like the other natural pursuits, but nonetheless I am still impressed.
Nostalgia can be a battle, especially when accompanied by a sense of being uprooted and ungrounded. I heard this ass on NPR equating a sense of nostalgia to dissatisfaction with the present. I’m not saying that he’s wrong, but perhaps just heartless and incapable of compassion. I think he’s operating on some faulty assumptions about progress, and also think that he had a shitty childhood, or maybe he was born a thirty three year old. I mostly just dislike him.
I grew up in Michigan, and ever since I left have always been drawn back. My family still has a place on a lake there, and I feel as though I’ve discovered it again. It’s a place that I always have held close, even when I lived right there. I think that I like it so much because my mother does, and I feel like it is the way in which I most understand and know her. She has so many memories of her mother there, and times with her brother and father, and with my dad. It’s such a large part of her identity. I have my own memories and regrets tied to that water, and its something that I have had to come to grips with over the years of being away.
And therein lies the truth about nostalgia. It’s a living and breathing part of your identity, not some bullshit nod to the way you think the world use to be (or even how great you think it is now). The lady’s family has the same connection to their piece of land in Holmes County, Mississippi. Its fun to watch because I know how they feel, how much they want to protect it because it is such an important way to tangibly understand what they share as a family.
But what I have learned most about the sentimental is that it can develop into something new. It is dynamic. I have been having so much fun researching how to duck hunt our lake and the adjoining river system this summer, because I love to hunt and because our house is in a flyway and because we have never done it. My relationship to that place is about to change, especially if it works. I suppose it means that I will have a different, more developed relationship with the place and with the collective identity of our experiences there. It feels like that part of my history is bending the rules a little bit to accommodate me. Which, quite frankly, rules. The river that leads into the lake is also a killer steelhead fishery, and there is a native brook trout stream about a half-mile down the road. These are all added bonuses that I never even knew I cared about until I began to appreciate the harvest.
So, the point is that nostalgia and sentimentality are important, especially if it is such a large part of your identity, and its also pretty neat to see those things change and develop with you.