nostalgia

It creeps up on you, like a stomachache or fatigue. That deep feeling that you miss people who are dear to you, but it’s been months or years since you’ve talked and things have changed and time has passed and it might not be the same as it was, anyway.

I had a dream the other night about M., a guy from high school whom I had a huge crush on when I was junior and he was a senior. He was goofy and made me laugh and often gave me rides in his family’s minivan. We made each other mixed tapes, and on one he made me, he put one line from a song that was a hint that he liked me and I listened to it over and over again. Together, we figured out the words to the Pearl Jam song “Yellow Ledbetter,” so that now when I hear it, I think of him. He didn’t kiss me in high school, though I wanted him to — he did years later — but I was enamored with him for most of that innocent junior year.

M. and I stayed in touch through and after college, but as he got more and more serious about his now wife (and I dated a few guys seriously), and our relationship evolved to a true friendship, we slowly drifted apart. He got married and lives in Royal Oak, Mich., and I haven’t seen him in more than five years.

So I emailed him yesterday after having this vivid dream (truly out of the blue), thinking it was an old email address. Just to say hi. And he wrote right back. And he is still in Royal Oak, and his wife is pregnant with their first child, and he’s still a social worker working in three schools.

Time hasn’t changed all that much, but the distance and the experiences make me feel like it has. And the time and distance make me look at things with that rosy tint, that romantic vision that is harder to conjure when you see someone day to day.

But sometimes I feel like it’s impossible to stay up with those I care about and be closely involved in all that’s happening. And that because I can’t stay up with it all, and people’s kids grow up so fast (how is J.’s first baby already two?), that I’m really missing out.

Nostalgia. Maybe — as the days are getting shorter, and the summer rolls into fall — it’s just that time of year.

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