From the wonderful A Word A Day:
nostomania (nos-tuh-MAY-nee-uh, -mayn-yuh) noun
An overwhelming desire to return home or to go back to familiar places.
[From Greek nostos (a return home) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or madness).]
Rich used to have a great cat named Iris. During most of her life, Iris was a sweet cat who loved sitting on the couch getting petted, or lazing around in the house tracking the sun. When she first showed up in Rich's life, though, she came as a feral kitten who had been living in the woods near his grandmother's house in rural western Oregon.
It took a few years for Iris to be comfortable in the house, and both of us probably still have scars from the painful experience of trying to get her in a carrier to go to the vet. (While she was at the vet, of course, she was sweet and lovable, which meant that we would spend the visit getting dirty looks from both her and the vet.) Eventually, though, she settled down and became the sweet housecat we knew and loved.
We were surprised that years later, towards the end of her life, she seemed to revert to her old habits -- she didn't like to stay indoors, and would spend hours or days stalking the fields around their house.
When I read Anu's Word of the Day today, it reminded me of Iris, and made me think about some of my habits that seem to be reverting to my childhood. Maybe taking on some of the behaviors of our childhood is a way of dealing with this kind of longing.
For me, it hasn't really happened in big ways, but there have been a lot of little things I've noticed returning to me. One example: for a long time I was perfectly happy wearing closed-toe shoes, even though I grew up barefoot or wearing slippers and ended up with what used to be known in Hawai'i as "lu'au feet" (named for the wide leaf of the taro plant).
In the last few years, though, wearing closed-toe shoes has become more and more irritating to me. At first, I dealt with it by taking off my shoes during meetings or long car rides. I'd still think of them as my default footwear choice, though. For the last few summers I've worn sandals all summer (no socks, thank you, that's one tacky habit I never picked up from the northwesterners around me).
This summer (such as it's been) I've gone all the way back to slippers on days when it's even reasonably warm. I just don't want to wear shoes, and I'm happier all day when I don't. And, fortunately, I work in an environment where I can wear whatever I like.
Hopefully, of course, we do keep some of the habits and beliefs we've learned along the way (otherwise what's the point of having experiences, anyway?), but it seems reasonable to me that we might eventually reject some of the things we learned away from home -- like a long-term version of the Amish practice of rumspringa, we go out into the world of new ideas and new ways of living only to discover that, no, thanks, we liked some things just fine about how we grew up.
What about you? Do you notice any returns to the habits of your childhood? I know some of you eventually moved home, and some of you have never left your childhood homes. What about you? Do you experience this longing, even though you're physically home? Any habits coming back?
ejuana, on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 10:42 PM:
Well, let's see. The weather here right now reminds me a little bit of vacationing in Hawaii. Not too hot, on the humid side. Green everywhere. (Neener).
Other than that French Toast. When I think of my Grandparents N. I think of how whenever we visited them they made us French Toast. Dad, made us French Toast. Uncle Tod made us French Toast that was too eggy. I love French Toast. It always = home.
heather, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 12:30 PM:
Pancake Sunday. Used to have them growing up; dad would make them "crispy around the edges" just the way my sister and I liked them. We recently brought that tradition into our little family. Baby Girl loves pancakes. And I love that I can share a happy tradition and memory with her and Tim, and together we can make them our tradition and memories. I have a lot of other examples like that. They really turned on full throttle when I was pregnant, and have continued since Baby Girl was born. It's amazing what happy memories she's triggered for me - experiences and events and even little everyday occurrances that I haven't thought of in years and years. It's awesome!
Sarah, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 12:56 PM:
Is it possible that your memories of childhood are becoming more pronounced now that you are expecting a new arrival? Some people say that once you have kids you forget what it's like to be a child, but I think that it reminds you of things from your own childhood as a way of preparing you for what is to come. This is just anecdotal observation though.
david adam edelstein, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 1:46 PM:
It's possible, but most of what I'm noticing has been happening for a few years, before we actually decided to have a child.
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 11:39 AM:
I'm back to spending most of my in diapers; nostomania, indeed.