Nostalgia (July 1, 2005)
Nostalgia is a peculiar mix of emotion and memory. Scents rather famously act as powerful triggers of recall, as do songs and other sounds. If you listen to popular music on the radio, you have a built-in soundtrack to your life. Even though I worked on dozens of houses in my carpentry days, I can identify each one with the songs getting airplay at the time. Boz Scaggs' Lowdown: the pole house on the hillside above Kailua, Oahu. Fleetwood Mac's Rumors: that stucco manse up in Waialae Iki 5.
What really fires my nostalgia, however, are the surf reports which pepper Oahu radio broadcasts along with the usual traffic updates. When I hear "Makaha, 1 to 2 feet, Haleiwa, 3 to 4 feet, Sunset, 3 to 4," an undying bond with Hawaii fills every fiber of my being. It's not a love of surfing--I only recently tried the sport, despite having lived in Hawaii from 1969-1986. (Back then, the sunscreens just weren't up to protecting such a pale haole.) Though the wellspring of nostalgia is always one unique sensory memory--the scent of ginger in the first light of day, Sunday Manoa's Hawaiian Lullaby, the Myna birds' sunset cackling in the big Banyan trees across from Central Union Church on Punahou Street--the emotions released instantly transfix all of one's mind and senses.
Nowadays you can get much more accurate surf reports on the Web, but a webpage will never trigger such a powerful wave of nostalgia.
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copyright © 2005 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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