Sunday, January 22, 2006

Origin of my species: Brooklyn nostalgia

I live in Kansas now.

It's the butt of jokes of course now. Kansas, where we don't evolve...
It's not so simple, though. I have friends who live in wonderful places: New York, Toronto, Seattle. My family, for the most part now lives in the Bay Area: Marin County and Walnut Creek.
I was not born a Kansan--I'm here by default.

My family came from what are now Byelorus and Ukraine. They emigrated in the early part of the 20th century. They started in Brownsville, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side and eventually moved on up to the Kensington neighborhood in Brooklyn: Albemarle Road and McDonald Avenue.

If you're from Brooklyn or just curious, you might want to visit the website of theBrooklyn Public Library and check out the My Brooklyn page for the essays and photos from people who live or lived in Brooklyn.

There's also another nostalgic "my Brooklyn" site and a Brooklyn board, an ongoing forum with different nostalgic topics. They also have a photo gallery.

The word nostalgia refers to homesickness--nostos means "return," and algia means "pain." There's a real sense of pain, almost physical pain when I think of the land of my origins. It's not a pain in the sense that oh yeah, my family of origin was dysfunctional and so on. It's pain because I can't return.

If I do go back, I can only look and remember. I know that much of my nostalgia is for growing up in Brooklyn and even if I were to move there now with my family and all my friends (current and past), it would still not be the same. I'd have to live with the fact that I can only go back physically. I can't go back in time.

1 comment:

bobo t clown said...

Wow. Nice post. I feel the same way about San Francisco. I was born and raised and spent all but the last six years of my life there. Even though it is a twenty minute ride away, I could never go to that city as a "visitor".
We live right off the lake, next to the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church that belts out the hymnals of my catholic youth at the vespertine hour.
The lake is beautiful this time of year, pretty soon the huge pelicans while come swooping in and then, you know it is nearly spring.
Walnut Creek is probably a GREAT place to retire...we were just there two days ago...I mean, they have that entire Mall that is set up outdoors on City Streets. Very nice.