Nostalgia For Everything


December 21, 1992|By ANDREI CODRESCU

This time of the year for some reason I get filled with nostalgia like a Jules Verne balloon.

I'm like Marcel Proust who smelled a cookie and couldn't stop remembering.

Wood fires are my cookie. I remember walking through an old square in my hometown in Romania, late fall 1958, kicking leaves with my feet and feeling as nostalgic as I do now for something I remembered then.

I remember sitting on the step of the Santa Maria Maggiore cathedral in Rome in 1965 eating an apple while everything turned to nostalgic gold around me.

I sat in a steamy cafe by the Spanish Steps later with a bitter hot espresso looking wistfully on the fashions of the year 1965, miniskirts and polka dots, and feeling so terribly young and alone.

I remember the wind whistling with snowflakes in it down Woodward Avenue in Detroit as I looked for a warm place to sit and contemplate the future year 1967, for which I already felt nostalgic though it hadn't even happened.

I remember the Blimpie's on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 9th Street in New York across from the long-gone Women's House of Detention where I sat writing nostalgically in my diary about the incredible year 1969 that was just around the corner.

I remember the back porch of Gabriel's hilltop apartment in San Francisco in 1970 looking on a pastel blue and gold city and wondering where winter was.

I went looking for it in Golden Gate Park wrapped in its coccoon of eucalyptus and ocean salt, and rocked like a baby listening for hints of 1971.

I remember the mists swirling above the Knotty Room in Monte Rio in 1974 while Pat and Jeff and I drank Rhoda's bad coffee and looked out to the huge redwood trees bending in an awesome wind announcing the torrential winter rains of 1975.

I remember late fall, early winter at the Mt. Royal Tavern in Baltimore in 1978 when all the lights went out and we continued drinking out and talking by candle-light as the world fell apart.

And the autumnal little cafe near Pont Neuf in Paris in 1981 where nostalgia was invested.

I'm writing now at the Deja-Vu in New Orleans at the end of 1992, and I miss this place already.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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