From time to time, I am afflicted with nostalgia. It was originally seen as a medical condition. From Wikipedia:
The term was newly coined in 1688 by Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), a Swiss medical student. The word is made up of two Greek roots (νόστος = nostos = returning home, and άλγος = algos = pain/longing), to refers to “the pain a sick person feels because he wishes to return to his native land, and fears never to see it again”.
I was lucky enough to go to high school in England on an American Air Force base, RAF Lakenheath. I say lucky because it is a valuable thing to see your culture from someone else’s perspective, and growing up overseas gives you that gift.
It’s also a great advantage to study Shakespeare and then go to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see a play, or to pop down to London to see the Rosetta Stone and the Mildenhall Treaure (a large collection of Roman silver buried in the 4th century and dug up “on a bitter afternoon in January 1943” – here’s the scoop from the Mildenhall Museum). We had a ditto sheet with questions that we had to answer (to prove we had actually seen the item) – I remember finishing quickly then walking around outside in search of a pub.
The fear in my nostalgia is real: I can’t go back to the England I grew up in. First, RAF Lakenheath is now a fortress, and you can’t just walk on base like we used to. Even when I visited in 1999 (pre-9/11), I needed all kinds of clearance to visit. But secondly (and far more obvious), the England of 30 years ago is gone, just like the Pasadena of 30 years ago is gone.
Still, something essentially English remains (far away from here, expensive to get to, more than a weekend jaunt). Essential nuggets of Pasadena also remain (City Hall and Pie ‘n Burger). I left England, but I don’t think I’ll ever leave Pasadena–I already have a case of double nostalgia and if I have to watch Pasadena change, I’d rather it happen under my nose.
I helped organise (lapsing into British spelling now) my 30th high school reunion this past August – photos here.
Since then, a wonderful thing has happened. Bill Paul (he’s still ‘Billy Paul’ in my mind) started a Lakenheath network on ning. Better than Reunion.com and Classmates.com, ning has allowed Lakenheath alum to connect (and to see who is connecting with whom). There is a Lakenheath group on Facebook too, but somehow the ning thing has been the better catalyst for people to connect.
Back to me feeling lucky. Continue reading “Nostalgia & Tech”