When my family and I lived in a studio apartment, one corner assigned to each family member, I would walk downtown with my sisters to a local coffee shop.
This was shortly before school started and the northern climates were much cooler than the desert west of Texas we were used to. At night, a curtain of rain snapped across the sky and the grass would drink up the water like its last breath. In the morning, the dew lingered in the air and lighted the breeze.
The little apartment was incredibly claustrophobic and it felt like we were stacked on top of one another all day. In the morning, our mother would push us out the door into the crooked, poorly carpeted hallway to seek our own entertainment in town. We would push and shove ourselves against each other on the stairwell, laughing about how the old apartment house reeked of ghosts and dead men buried beneath the basement.
Giant oak trees blocked the front of the house, casting it into shade day in and day out, and faded strips of yellow paint peeled away from the house’s siding. The yard was littered with debris from the trees and I would kick pine cones and sticks down the sidewalk.
My older sister had a little money saved up from her job and would buy us italian sodas as we trudged up backside hills and narrow streets in tucked away neighborhoods. Those days were neither happy nor sad, but when I look back on them, I feel a nostalgia for that relationship I once had with my sisters.
This past week, I decided to visit that little shop again. It was still packed to the brim with people, standing and crowding the entrance of the doorway. People were still as rude as ever as they shoved you in the corner with the gaze hovering down the end of their nose. The place had more lightning and I remembered it being much darker with people shadowed in the corners of the cafe waiting for their drinks.
The cafe was too different from my memories and the place I had sought was long gone. Those nostalgic memories never came to me. And it left me with an unease that neither grew nor went away.
I had tried to reclaim this piece of memory, but the sourness it left is still hard to swallow.
I can see where nostalgia earns for better times. I remind myself I stand in a better place than I ever stood before and it makes it hurt a lot less.