Particularly at specific times of year. I used to think it was October that sparked it the most, but lately I've been feeling it pretty strongly about spring. So, I think it might just be any transitory, changing season that makes me reflective and really puts me in the "what was I doing this time last year" mood.
I've finally been in California long enough to have memories of "how things were before." It can be a pretty transitory place around here, with all the young people and fast-paced career life that kind of moves people in and out and around. So as I'm approaching my two-year mark this summer, I've officially reached a point where I'm one of the staples. One of the people who's "been around for awhile." I've just noticed here and there that some of the people who fit that role when I moved here, the people who seemed to know everyone and had their feet under them and all that jazz, are starting to move away one by one or move on to different life phases and what-have-you.
Change is often subtle in that regard as an adult, because it's not like back in school when every semester turned up a fresh crop of people and shipped a new batch out in graduation hats. It's more one at a time, these days, as friends get new jobs in new cities or coworkers switch teams, and all the faces change slowly one by one until it catches me by surprise one day.
I get these strong waves of nostalgia now and then where it just washes over me and I suddenly miss all the people who've left and the past seasons of life and how things were and so on and so forth. I had one of those moments tonight, when I went to a dinner party in a neighborhood where I used to spend quite a bit of time when I first moved to California. I even stopped in, for a minute, into a house that used to be ripe with meaning for me. It used to hold so much expectation and comfort and anxiety and stability all at once – I don't even know quite how to explain it, but I had a lot of emotions and hopes wrapped up in that house. And I stood in its kitchen tonight and looked around at the different faces taking up space there and it was like one of those movie effects where you can see the shadows of former crowds mingling around the room and fading into the background. It suddenly struck me how much things have completely changed around me while I was busy doing this or that.
Moments like that always make me want to hold on really tight to what I have right now, because I feel so sharply that before I know it, it'll all change too.
And that in a year or two, when the air is again starting to turn from cold to warm as spring and then summer take hold, I'll be sitting around somewhere thinking about this exact moment in time. About when I was about to leave Google, when I was about to start a new job at Palantir, when I was on the tail end of one adventure and on the cusp of so, so much more to come. And the memories of when I was fresh to California, of all the angst and emotion of that time that's already starting to feel like so long ago, will be even further behind me and be even more of a distant feeling.
It's borderline intoxicating, in those moments, how strong nostalgia can be. It just fills me up with a kind of ache for things that are lost and an intense thrill about whatever is about to come and a curiosity about what it is, right now, that I'll be missing most in future days.
Also, it reminds me yet again that hurts pass and desires change and the things that disappoint don't last forever. It reminds me not to get too hung up on any letdowns, because I can look back and see so clearly how past wounds have healed into scars that don't hurt me anymore, and also how often what seemed like endings so frequently yielded unexpected second and third chances where I thought doors were closed. And that gives me hope, always.
Mostly, it just makes me want to live really, really well and appreciate every little bit of every little thing and person around me. It all goes so quickly! And someday it'll all just be shadows on the wall at a party that create an ache in my bones and get me drunk on memories.
So here's to making good ones :)