Sometimes I think I was born with a burning nostalgia for a time I can’t quite place, a yearning for something, somewhere, that may or may not exist. As a passenger aboard a ship set sail for eternity, caught in an endless pursuit of that nexus of time and space that can be felt but rarely described.
A relentless seeking for the distinct and familiar tension in my throat, a tightness of my stomach, the burning happiness that’s somehow laced with sadness and yearning all at the same time.
I chase after this elusive feeling, part based in reality and equal parts based in the romanticized realm of times distantly passed. Nothing is ever so sweet as when it lives unspoiled in a pleasant memory.
I first tasted this forbidden freedom one night in college. While it is a rather anticlimactic tale for the outsider, it still stirs my deepest nostalgic desire within.
What began as a quest to locate a copy of a movie turned into my mate and I embarking on a late night journey – a crazed but innocent outbreak for the road, away from the ties of all that was expected of us.
“I don’t want to stop driving,” Leigh said, as we considered our options post-failed mission, inspiration visible in her eyes beneath the yellowy haze of the streetlamps.
One look of mutual understanding was the only communication necessary – and so we simply didn’t stop driving.
Even if our venture only ended in a strange night spent in the dilapidated trucker’s motel next to Denny’s, it was our night of escape – from the confines of reality to one that offered the promise of everywhere and the human connection that forms outside the monotony of routine. Pulled by the consideration that maybe the open road offers more insight than our tuition-exclusive classrooms.
Of course, the allure of cutting all ties was tamed just in time for us to make it back to class the next day, back into the clutches of normality. What other choice did we have in our still adolescent brains?
But this memory lasts, and I summon it from my mental depths to fuel the engine of pursuit when adventure beckons. And because of times like these, I remain in the chase for those moments that perhaps only exist inside my mind, that only cement into bliss with passing time.
To be honest, the details of that night are fuzzy at best. Yet in a moment, I can close my eyes and feel the internal warmth of inhibition, the mental limbo between heightened awareness and utter peacefulness – induced by driving through drizzling rain and contemplating life’s unanswerable questions with your best mate, backed by the soft hum of Van Morrison floating from the speakers.
For these are the kinds of things I yearn to collect, the moments that keep me tied up in the pursuit of a life of a different kind.
And when that feeling hits, I’ll always know – when all of my senses vibrate simultaneously and I forget where I am. Perhaps we do go elsewhere during these moments, off to a different plane we haven’t yet identified.
So I’ll continue to cling to those unpredictable mixtures of time and place, when the environment is just right and we don’t know how we got there, or if we will ever be back. However fleeting each may be.