Updated: Jun 19, 2021
I'm caught off guard by a smell. Immediately my olfactory goes to work and teams up with my amygdala and hippocampus. I halt my leisurely pace and inhale the soft scent of maple and oak trees at twilight. The grass is moist so it's paired with an undercurrent of petrichor. This is it. This is the smell. I could bottle it up and label it Vanessa, November 1993. It's the environmental perfume accompanying my walk home from elementary school back home, thousands of miles away. It's a smell I associate with safety and comfort. The past eleven months being what they were I am deeply soothed by this smell and cool evening breeze. I even say aloud, "Ah, nostalgia." with no one around to hear my quiet declaration.
Nostalgia has occupied more of my thought than I am accustomed to. Unsurprisingly, I have been in my apartment most of the past year with not much more to do than live a simplified life. I often sit in a quiet courtyard and think or sit with a book. I walk around the empty beaches or stroll the neighborhood with nothing more than my memories and imagination. I see a particularly beautiful ocean sunset and recollect the sunsets of my youth with bologna sandwiches and Wonder bread. I really soak in these moments. Until life returns to a pace that it once was, we can take this opportunity to honor our memories simply by remembering.
Twelve years from now I'll be walking under another oak tree and I'll remember this year and my quiet walks in these sleepy neighborhoods and abandoned beaches because it's hard to see the nostalgia as it's being made in the moment.