Last night I savoured nostalgia the way you would a chocolate truffle that melts in your mouth. Taken from a box tied with a ribbon, made from butter thick cream and the darkest coco; it flowed over me.
I have never been so impressed with a final chapter. Stephen Leacock’s thin novel Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town stirs up memories of a home that I never had – Mariposa – but can entirely relate to, even having been raised in the suburbs instead of a small town off a dirt road along winding river.
It’s deeply satisfying to read a well written piece of work. And just as he began to talk about home, and Home, and the place that is buried in the past, I knew this was going to something about which to write. He has you see the train that everyone has forgotten, the train that carries you back to that place you grew up, the place with all those sunny memories . . . and he has you take that train and watch it transform into everything good you know about those times.
It made me think of my home – not exactly the one in Kanata 2010, but more the one in my mind, the one I visit to watch giant snowflakes drift through the air, or the maple leaves turn yellow, or the sun that streaks with redness across the field, and I grew up in the suburbs, far less sentimental than a small town where everyone knows everyone, but nostalgia is a strong cocktail, I figure, no matter where you grew up.
Anyhow, having slowly plucked my way through the pages of this book and laughed along with the ridiculousness of the narrator and characters, it was a disarming to read Leacock sober up and take us on this sad journey into a place to which we can’t actually return.
I long for Christmas because it’s what I knew back when things were far, far easier. And I miss Canada because not only is it an excellent country, but it is Home, no matter where else I live – no matter where else I may go – it will always be Home. And funnily enough, I know that those feelings are placed back in time. This is now, this is my life now and it is a good one (a very good one). Ten years into the future I’ll probably long for the time Zsolt and I lived in a one bedroom apartment along a busy street filled with students, and we’d walk to the green grocers to buy our vegetables.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Being emotional lately I think it catches me more often, and yesterday’s final chapter (L’Envoi. The Train to Mariposa) caught me right up, wrapped me right up, and sent me to bed with dreams full of Young ponds, and popsicle outings, and sitting under my maple.
Nostalgia is a nice place to visit, though I certainly couldn’t live there. That would be too hard. Instead I’ll go and give Zsolt a kiss on the cheek, make a cup of tea, and look out the window for something interesting. I love my life now: my independence, my husband, my friends, my family, my writing, my adventures – all despite this breast cancer blip. But it was nice to ride Leacock’s train, if only for the night. He is a talented writer, which is always a pleasure.