I read an academic paper on nostalgia because I’m feeling nostalgic. I hear a song that reminds me of something both terrible and beautiful, of some time ago, a time I sat alone on the floor of a dirty trailer, the night descending on me like stone. I read that the brain emphasizes certain melodies when heard, that implicit memories are stored in the unconscious and can attach to an emotion. I learn that the cerebrum in the brain are stimulated while listening to music. All of this is to say that music, emotion, and movement are all connected, which is why when I heard the song play out on a Monday night, the memory retrieved itself, pitched now in front of me, as if I was living it all again: the loneliness surfaced, felt just as before, seven years earlier. It’s reassuring to know that you survive these moments. Simone Weil wrote, “Everything beautiful has a mark of eternity,” which I believe in, though infinitude and age mystify me. I want to believe that most things are beautiful in some way, even a composite of objects like plastic and metal and maybe tires. So girls brushing their hair in the mirror, making poses and their laughter, like queens, the mud compacted in the yard, the red mitten tied around a branch, the dead evergreen tipped sideways. Marked with the future, she suggests. I sense that nostalgia mingled with desire creates a situation of heartache, as it did for me on Monday, but we can believe in this eternal beauty and as Simone Weil reminds me, “If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.”

A composite photo of Anna Atkins’ cyanotype (1843) behind my own photograph of trees.

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