Thursday, April 1, 2010

My name's Vanessa, and I'm additcted to nostalgia.

I'm a sucker for some good reminiscing.

Really, don't get me started because I'll run laps around memory lane until you can't stomach another wistful account of the first time I ever (insert milestone).

I've always been this way. In elementary school I filled "top secret" black and white composition books with weekly accounts of what I was doing and why it was so very epic. In high school, I collected photo albums. In college, my girlfriends and I had Sunday "powwows" to dissect the details of our weekends out. Now, I blog.

Lucky for me, New York keeps giving me reasons to revel in nostalgia. In a city this alive where my senses are constantly engaged every smell, sight and sound is a potential trigger. My daydream-prone imagination is frequently plucked from the present and plopped into a vivid moment from my past. And I can't get enough of it.

Two spontaneous trips down memory lane...


On a recent Saturday morning here in Manhattan I woke up to the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. Like the honking cabs and blaring ambulances that sing to the city all day and night, a helicopter's buzz isn't all that unusual. But for me, in that moment, it was a ticket back to Gainesville, Florida, home of my proud Alma mater, the University of Florida. It was a ticket to one of my favorite memories: Saturday morning before gameday.

For four years I lived in an apartment conveniently located behind the stretch of bars and restaurants opposite our campus and the legendary Swamp (our stadium for those of you lesser folks who didn't attend). Saturday mornings during the football season always sounded perfectly the same. I'd wake up to the sweet sweet yells of tailgaters either newly drunk as of 10:00am or still drunk from the night before. Behind these rowdy crowds of coeds and alumni who wished they still were was the pretty consistent drone of news helicopters above. Even nosier when ESPN's College Gameday was filming live.

So that morning, like Pavlov's dog, I hopped out of my bed at the sound of the helicopter. I knew I was in New York City, and I knew when I looked out my window I would just find a rusted firescape. Still, I was overcome with the best kind of nostalgia. It's an obscure association, but I hope I hold on to it forever. God, I loved gamedays. God, I loved Gainesville.


Nine times out of ten, the aromas emanating from the New York City streets are not exactly pleasant. But, every once in a while, I'll turn a corner or climb up from a subway platform to find a vendor selling roasted chestnuts from a cart, and that scent is downright delightful. Walking past the other day, a sweet candied whiff took me back to the New York I knew long before I lived here, the New York I used to visit with my family during Christmas vacations.

Back then, all I knew of New York was twinkling Times Square and of course FAO Schwartz. They had an entire Barbie floor where I believe I reached little girl nirvana. I remember clenching my mom's hand as we navigated the stuffed city streets, cranking my neck to make out the top of the Empire State Building, sucking the salt off a soft pretzel. That New York City, if only in memory, always smelled like street cart chestnuts.

1 comment:

  1. I love that smell! And loving your blog, Vanessa! (Trici sent me the link.)