Friday, May 29, 2009

La nostalgie n'est plus ce qu'elle était

Jane R has nice essay up at Episcopal Café. The title is "Lost things and the power of memory."


I wrote the following response to her directly: my own tale of loss of a thing.

Lovely essay.

When [my ex] and I first visited St Petersburg I took along my French army beret. It was a gift of l'Intendant Général Jean F Urvoy, with whose family I lived for two months in fall of 1967. I could wear it in France without the insigne of l'Intendance but in the States I could wear that too. I loved it. It reminded me of all those hot army boys (studying to be accountants, alas), of the General and his family, of Montpellier, of France generally, and of my youth.

At some point in our walk toward and down the Nevsky Prospect, the beret fell out of my coat pocket, never to be seen again.

All the reasons you mention - those who gift us with lovely things, memories, connections, stories - made this a painful loss. But there was nothing to be done about it. I sighed, grieved, and went on.

I still miss it.

[The header is the title of a book by Simone Signoret: "Nostalgia isn't what it use to be."]

PS: This is where I lived with them.
--the BB

10 comments:

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

O dear, what your story makes me nostalgic for the ancient colonel (generation of my Grandfather) and his family of 8 I lived with in Aix en Provence in 1973...

I swiftly go to Jane R's ;=)

Paul said...

Swedish blood AND living with military figures in southern France - plus the friends we have in common! What next?

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Well...

Jane R's essay was most interesting!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, Göran, y'all didn't find my ring, did you?

Paul said...

I didn't, Mimi. Göran?

Jane R said...

Maybe we should put some of these objects in our novels or sermons...

Göran, glad you found the essay interesting. And thanks, Paul, for sharing your story. Many of the commenters at the Café seem to have similar stories to share. I think they are part of the things we don't talk about. I somehow felt moved to do so, after much internal mulling and churning about and hesitation.


Mimi, good question. I'll look around here in Boston. You never know.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

No, sorry no ring.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The old colonel had been in the Pont & Chaussées engineering troops (just as my dear papa) building roads in Africa.

And fought in both Wars. The first as a volonteer, the second with the Maquis, all while his wife lived in Paris, eating rats and caring for the eldest children.

Paul said...

The rat-eating stories I heard were from Cambodian-Americans who lived under and escaped Pol Pot, later to become members of our congregation in Oakland.

Most of us have not the slightest clue what life under difficult conditions can be. We rely on the memories and stories of those who do in order to enlarge our understanding.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

So true.