Nostalgia, according to Webster's New World Dictionary1, is “a longing for something far away or long ago”. We all feel it, and it seems to play a larger role in our lives the older we get. Which makes perfect logical sense because the older we get the more we think about the “good old days”. Eventually there comes a point where there are more days in the past than in the future.2
I recently went with my wife and our two children to her high school reunion down in Centreville, Maryland. She graduated from Gunston Day School, class of 1985. I never had an experience like that when I was in high school (or college for that matter). Since Gunston at the time was a boarding school, my wife lived there during the school year and obviously went back home to New Jersey when summer came around. I never left home. I took the bus to high school, and I commuted to college. When we arrived at that reunion, I could feel that nostalgia even though I never went there. I could tell my wife had this sense of such joy from remembering all her best friends from high school. That was accompanied by a feeling that you can never get back to those days, the sadness, the brink of tears.
It's that mix that describes nostalgia for me.