Notes on nostalgia and loss

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I am in a radically different place than I was a year ago.

A year ago I was living in a tent in the rainforest under an avocado tree in Hawaii. I was hitch hiking barefoot with strangers. I was having the time of my life.

My heart BURNS with nostalgia for those times. That crazy jungle. Those crazy fools I shared my experiences with. As I sit here and blog from my studio in Chicago, I am fiery with red, hot desire.

I want nothing more to be sitting with my crazy friends, drinking wine, or maybe a kava smoothie, passing the herb and listening to Beats Antique. Someone is probably cooking an amazing curry and conversations about traveling the world abound. Wild pigs scurry about in the night, cats lurk, and night blooming Jasmine floats in the air.

Hawaii, the amazing place where cats eat coconuts
Hawaii, the amazing place where cats eat coconuts

I’m intoxicated with memories of this place. It cripples me sometimes how much I want to relive these moments, some of my very truest glory days. One day I’m harvesting a sacred root plant, the next day I’m swimming in a natural hot pond, and that night I’m dancing under the stars and moon at a Full Moon Party. I could die and go to Heaven, and all the people I met on the road would be there in one room.

We would laugh about the time I posed nude for my artist friend, or lament simultaneously about our collective mosquito bites. We’d sing that one verse of that one song we loved so much. We’d imitate each other, tell each other secrets, speak in foreign tongues. We would share recipes, read aloud, perform, write poetry, bathe in the mud. Whatever it is we decide to do, it will be fun and soul-enriching.

We would forage for wild orchids in the rainbow eucalyptus
We would forage for wild orchids in the rainbow eucalyptus forest

How do I let these memories “go”? Does anyone else suffer from missing the road and the crazy shenanigans as much as I do?

I try to connect with my friends on Facebook but it’s not the same. I can’t give my friend Adrianna a haircut with kids scissors on the beach via the internet. Something’s lost there. Everything’s lost there.

In my dreams I am in the waves again. I’m having those endless conversations with my travel soul mates about the infinite future. The sky is the limit. We swim with dolphins and return to shore.

I wake up in my studio in Chicago. Sometimes it’s painful to relive even your fondest memories.

How do I cope with saying goodbye? How do I put these memories that somehow still feel very alive into a sealed box and shove it to the back of my mind? I want to taste that curry. I want to hoola-hoop. I want to swing in the hammock while people shuck coconuts, smoke weed and laugh maniacally at nothing.

Dancers in the night
Dancers in the night

I miss these things. I tend to over romanticize moments of my life, usually when it comes to relationships. Travel memories are forever burned into my brain in a different way though.

I know there were difficult times in the jungle. There were scary nights when I felt so alone, so isolated, afraid. I was left to lie there and overcome my fears of being somewhere so far away, completely by myself (albeit amongst friends), strange sounds in the night, volcanic energy haunting my dreams. There were sick days, days of jungle fever, drama, confusion, fighting. But somehow all of this is lost when I reminisce.

I can only recall soul music and Sunday brunches under the papaya trees. Lazy morning, yoga stretches, endless dance parties and great beer. I think about the jokes, how hard I truly laughed, the kind souls I met every day.

I realize how painful it is to sometimes recount good memories. I do this when I suffer through a breakup. It’s like mental torture.

Though, I must say I have learned to incorporate my past experiences into the present so they don’t feel so far away.

I cook those recipes. I dance to the music. I practice my yoga. I talk about Hawaii fondly, but some days I feel like Rose in Titanic. My heart’s a deep ocean of secrets. Many of my best experiences cannot even be recounted in words. They are too precious, too private and too uniquely “mine.”

To say that I’m suffering through loss is wrong. What I’m really doing is suffering through gain. I am growing from one place to the other, and sometimes that is painful.

If I learned anything from living in a hostel with my friends constantly coming and going, it was learning the practice of loving non-attachment. I am confident that I can love those moments for what they were, look back on the fondly, and release them. I know I will catch up to them again if I need a friendly place to return to, maybe a warm bowl of curry and an hours-long conversation over a bottle of wine. That place was and still is. That is my comfort.

I am still here
I am still here
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