Certain memories unhinge a particular power; a vehicle for feeling something in your bones that you previously felt a long time ago.
We drive through the streets of New Paltz, a quaint town that played a leading role in my freshman year of college. The autumn wind on my face transports me back apple-picking ventures – I would maneuver my way, uphill, through the beautiful orchard as a freshman, but also as a young girl. I grabbed a pole that was taller than I was to reach up into the towering tree, while sequestering a Red Delicious or Macintosh in the process. I’d rub them on my blue jeans to illuminate its shine; they emitted that perfect fall sparkle in the sunlight. The allure of apple cider doughnuts, and its sugary crystals dissolving on the tip of my tongue, also has its place in this snapshot.
It’s a hazy, big picture recollection; not so much a pine for what once was, or for prior circumstances.
When I was 18, I devoured a gourmet, Italian sandwich – the messy kind that was too big for my own good – with a boy at Fat Bobs Pizzeria. New Paltz is renowned for its quirky storefronts. We called for campus delivery and ate on the floor of my dorm room after midnight, with the thought that this was going to become a moment in our shared history that would later be labeled as ‘nostalgic.’ It’s difficult to escape those first, serious relationships unscathed.
On another occasion that year, I was situated on a brownish couch at the Muddy Cup, an artsy coffee house with rustic furnishings. I was with the same boy. It was dark outside, and the cozy ambiance worked well with what the night had to offer. Time was standing still, until it didn’t, and around 10 pm, we had to catch a cab to take us back to where we came from. The name of the coffee shop is now something else, but its essence remained the same. Funny how people and places tend to do that. Go ahead and change, I say, I still know your core.
The details blur in and out of your mind, but it’s not really about the small pieces, the extra remnants.
Across the street was the shop that featured precious stones, crystals, Navajo dream catchers, and assorted pieces of jewelry. It’s where I purchased a green Aventurine candle. “Aventurine benefits all areas of creativity, and imagination, as well as intellect and mental clarity. It is a gentle stone that gives a sense of calm, balance, and happiness.”
And while I chose to transfer to another school, it is still a bit weird, a heavy kind of weird, to stroll through the New Paltz campus grounds and remember the footsteps I imprinted on that path to that building to that quad back when things were different.
Because, you see, it’s not about the specifics of these narratives. It’s the wide scope of homesickness for another time – perhaps the reminiscence of an innocence that was upholstered in one moment, however fleeting that may have been.