Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preemptive Nostalgia

Naturally, I found myself back on my exact block less than one week later. I was invited to dinner with friends who live in the 80s on Amsterdam Avenue. I met them at an Italian restaurant I had never been to (nothing shot holes in my arguments for the Upper West Side like my general refusal to venture farther north within my own neighborhood). After dinner I strolled down Columbus Avenue for a while, both indulging in and scolding myself for being nostalgic for the neighborhood I had barely left. It requires a supreme level of sappiness to look longingly at a bank that isn’t yours next to a children’s store you never once entered.
- Empty Rooms, No Regrets; NYTimes, 23 February 2011

On Friday evening, due to a total train screwup (and by that I mean "Betsy didn't look at the boards properly before hoofing it onto a departing train and therefore ended up in the wrong place") I found myself walking to the flat I had shared with Jon and John and Sam in Clapham from Clapham Junction.  This route takes you directly down Northcote Road.  You have to understand, I have loved Northcote Road ever since my first exploratory journey through my then-new neighborhood back in July.  It's full of high-end high-street shops, sweet cafés and restaurants, and bars galore; essentially, it was my local Mecca.  Walking down Northcote Road even just to grab a paper on Sunday mornings made me happy.

So, on Friday evening, I found myself walking down Northcote Road on my way back to the flat I had left only a few days earlier with the keen purpose of packing all of my personal belongings for Saturday's move.  I should have walked with motivation because, after all, moving out of the flat I shared with Jon was the right thing to do given our circumstances.  But I realized after a few blocks that I was meandering slowly down the street, my hand almost imperceptibly caressing the air, gazing longingly at the shops as I passed.

Packing wasn't terribly heart-wrenching, but I felt fragile for several hours afterwards because of that walk.  Because that was, conceivably, the last time I will walk down Northcote Road to that flat; the last time I will pass our café, our favorite brunch spot; the last time I will stare at the you-can't-afford-it-so-don't-even-think-about-it dresses at Question Air; the last time I will stop in front of the Antiques Market and imagine that wrought iron bench in my fantasy garden which would be, of course, just around the corner behind the lovely Edwardian rowhouse that I shared with Jon.

Once I walked through the door of my new place later that evening, I was a bit less unsettled.  But for a few hours that evening, I felt completely rootless, and overwhelmingly nostalgic for a place and a dream that I had barely left.


  1. You've got lots of readers from around the world sending you love as you go through this. Hang in there, Betsy!

  2. Thank you so much, Mary - it means a lot!

  3. Thanks for sharing such a raw honest moment.

  4. Betsy, here's hoping you've moved somewhere that's 'safe as houses'...


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