As someone who is nearing the end of second year, when I walk through the cobbled streets of Durham I have come to adore over the past year and a half, I feel haunted. Haunted by the memories I have made and haunted by the past versions of myself I feel are tied and buried between the very cobblestones I walk upon. Fearing the future, I cling desperately to the past.
I am gripped by this state of premature nostalgia every time I walk through town. The Subway on North Road a reminder of the night my friend and I sat at the window seats, cheap booze pumping through our veins and sweet chilli sauce smudging the foundation on our chins, as we sat swaying to the beat of the music booming in Loft still buzzing in our ears; the window now frames a picture of the past. Snapchat memories are a constant pictorial reminder of my days living in college: the days of dirty kitchen sinks and passive aggressive messages on the flat group-chat; when instead of learning how to cook, I simply accepted the constant comfort and ease of pesto pasta. As I rush to my seminars up in the science site, I’m struck by the ease of which I flurry past the mass of other students doing the same. Those feelings of nervousness and the fear that everyone could tell I had no clue what I was really doing have now evaporated, along with the confused fresher too afraid to even step into the library during Michaelmas 2017.
But now my days feel numbered. I long to go back and relive all these moments: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I yearn to feel again the fluttering of butterflies in my stomach that have been replaced recently by the piling dread and stress of summatives and deadlines and attempting to plan a future which I am still utterly clueless about. And yet, as I walk through these Durham streets I can’t help but notice the increasing familiarity of the faces of unfamiliar people and the strangeness of this once new city has now become my home. Time has to move on for it cannot be stopped, and we move along with it.
This premature nostalgia clutches onto me – the comfort of burying myself in memories of the past is an allure I struggle to reject, especially in these times of rapid change. Who wouldn’t want to go back to the ease of first year, where we barely worried about the 40% we needed to pass? Or when simply navigating through the limits of your alcohol tolerance was your biggest issue. But each second we live thinking of the past, is a moment of the present already gone. While it’s human to feel lost in the largeness of life, we move forward by placing one foot in front of the other – one by one, and just like that, each piece fitting together to form the vast puzzle that is our life will come together too.