Nostalgia, familiarity and homesickness

It happens to me every year, so it must be something about Spring.  As soon as the weather starts to get warm, the days start to get longer and the flowers start to poke up from the ground, I start to get nostalgic.  It’s for all kinds of things — memories from my childhood, experiences from college, past and unrequited loves (yes, I had a life before I met Dan).  I get all wistful and desirous of revisiting places from my past, reminiscing with old friends and reliving warm days spent in the sun.  (I blame the weather.)

This year, alongside this wistful nostalgia, I’m having a really strange experience here — Vienna itself is feeling familiar to me.  We’re quickly coming to the anniversary of our arrival here, so the city is looking and feeling more and more like it did when we got here.  The outdoor cafes are open, the Easter markets are being set up, we’re getting outside to see the sights again, the light and weather are the same.  We’re even getting out and wearing our spring clothes again — many of which were among the few items we brought over in our suitcases with us last year (and wore over and over because our main shipment of stuff took so long to arrive.  (I think I will forever associate those clothes with Vienna, like some kind of sartorial post-traumatic stress disorder.)  Every day I see something and think, “Oh, I remember that!”  The sensation is bizarre, because the last few days have been among the first that I’ve ever felt this sense of familiarity, and the things that are triggering it are coming frequently now – I’m suddenly being assaulted with the sense of recognizing a place that has been constantly new to us for a year — the feeling is odd exactly because being feeling familiar with anything in Vienna is such an alien experience.

And for every bit that Vienna starts to feel familiar, it also makes me realize that it has slowly started to feel like home.  I didn’t notice that happening, and it’s discordant in my mind.  It feels like a betrayal, and my mind reacts instantly by intensifying an already strong sense of homesickness.  We’ve been away from home for a long time, and I’m more aware of it every day.  I miss my family terribly.  I miss my friends, I miss my horses, I miss the way that spring comes to Maryland and Virginia.  My markers of spring from home are absent here — the crocuses, the daffodils, the forsythia — they have things similar to each of these, but they’re different enough that they manage to remind me of home while highlighting that this isn’t home.  But yet, they’re also familiar, because I became acquainted with Vienna when it was dressed for Spring, so they’re familiar from here – they’re a part of how I got to know this city, which is now my second home.

I’m missing so many things right now, but it’s not a sad feeling.  Like reminiscing about old times and younger days, missing home is strangely sweet.  I remember details I didn’t know I’d ever noticed, which I’m not sure I’d have appreciated if I hadn’t ever been away from them.

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