There is a strange reason why our feelings of nostalgia are not attached to real memories.
The downside to being a modern nomad is that you have to say goodbye often.
You need to emotionally detach yourself from microworlds of local food and culture, distinct scents and odours, as well as the feelings and expectations that you had while living somewhere.
And you also sometimes find yourself desperate to hold on to memories that are not really there. Of course there is always something there, but never on par with that perfect Instagram photo, beaming with hashtags of love, likes and love-stricken emojis.
These are the friends that you could have been close to, but in reality were too busy to hang out as often as friends do. Or the colleagues that you saw and spoke to on a daily basis, but never opened up to each other about your thoughts, plans and desires that define who you really are.
The Facebook friends you now see as ghosts of what might have been. Would you even know they live a few blocks away if you hadn’t befriended each other on social media?
These are the lovers you tell yourself you are leaving behind, when in reality the miles between you were never the reason why you are not together as a couple. What hurts even more than leaving is the emotional goodbye you never had with them, and the lost potential.
But mostly, it is a sense of belonging and a sense of community that, overwhelmed with emotion, you try to tell yourself was real before you pack up your bags for yet another time.
So can you miss something you never had? Being a global nomad, I’ve learnt we never really have anything or anyone completely. At least not in a perfect sense, as it “should” have been.
Being humans, we always long for identity and a sense of purpose and coherence. Missing people, places and things is our natural disposition, so we don’t have to face the terrifying fact that we are alone.
Moreover, we miss the way someone or something made us feel. The emotions are there, regardless of how much time and attention that person practically gave us. Sometimes we just miss the person we were when we still loved, cried, dreamed and believed in things passionately and wholeheartedly.
As long as we breathe and we feel, we will miss people and things that we never really had.
Photo: Creative Commons