I am usually not one to wallow in nostalgia. In fact, I purposefully avoid reminders of my ancestral home and country. I cannot spare the emotional energy needed for thinking about what was or what could have been. Unfortunately, that means that I also avoid thinking about my parents and sibling; I am not a very good daughter or sister. I avoid listening to music that I liked in my youth, I don’t look at photographs, and I don’t read anything in the native language. My DH, however, follows the news and even listens to the music, and is much more in touch with goes on over there. I just can’t. A combination of helplessness to do anything with how emotional every such engagement leaves me just makes it much better if I keep everything safely tucked away and far from thoughts and feelings.
Today, my DH snatched my apron to wash it, so I was apronless when the time came to do my Sunday cooking extravaganza (nothing fancy, just cooking in bulk for most of the upcoming week). The point is that I needed an apron.
The last time DH went to our home country, he bought me a very nice apron at a well-known downtown gallery/gift shop in the city where we both grew up, the home country’s capital. The apron is beautiful, black, with words of love for the city, and a very tasteful image near the hem. I am a pain in the butt to shop for, but DH is excellent at getting me stuff I will like and use. Unfortunately, the apron was not meant for the tall likes of me, the top bib part is far too short, so the strings would have to tie under my armpits as opposed to around the waist. I put it away, much to DH’s disappointment.
Today I had to find a way to use it, so I folded the bib part and tied it around my waist. It did great for the several hours I spent cooking.
But seeing the name of the city written on the apron made me very emotional. I remembered where the gallery was, the downtown, the time I spent there rushing to class or meeting friends by a landmark statue for a night on the town. And I felt a wave of deep sadness, probably equal parts missing my city and missing my early twenties.
Then one of the kids started asking me for something, and I was back being middle-aged and in American suburbia, with my memories seeming like they were from another life, belonging to someone else.
Being in the same region where I spent my early twenties, I don’t have the same longing for a place, but I definitely have a longing for that time of my life. I would give anything to go back in time and change certain things. This time I’d let it all come out, this time I’d stand up and shout. I’d do things my way, it’s my way, my way or the highway.
Yikes. We have similar ways of coping with our expatriation. I’ve never been dragged into wallowing in nostalgia by an apron, but it does tend to be he most mundane and least obviously sentimental things that catch me unawares.
Related to missing one’s twenties, Generation X is sick of your bullshit.