Déjà vu is this week’s prompt for GBE2 (group blogging experience) … to be completely honest I had no idea how I was going to tackle this topic. I was hesitant to share a moment where I can recall experiencing déjà vu; in fact, I am having trouble recalling a specific incident. Instead, all I could think about was the word nostalgia, which is not quite the same as déjà vu. Déjà vu expresses the sense of having seen or experienced something already – this can be related to either a positive or negative experience. Nostalgia, however, is always associated with a positive recollection, perhaps a happier time.
Nostalgia is often a sensory experience, triggered by smells, sounds, touch, taste or feel. For example, the smell of someone’s home. On a few rare occasions I have caught a fleeting whiff of something akin to the scent of my home in Angers, France with my dear French (host) mother Janine. When I encounter this familiar scent I have a moment of pleasure and longing for that time, one of the happiest in my life.
The smell of sunscreen is also a trigger for me, prompting memories of both my childhood and adolescence, spent, for the most part, on a beach swimming, lifeguarding, coaching and generally having a blast.
People often associate music with certain moments or time periods in their lives. When you hear a song on the radio that you used to listen to in high school, it generates memories from what feels like a lifetime ago. In high school we used to listen to a lot of Dave Matthew’s Band while hanging out, participating in underage drinking and shuffleboard tournaments.
Tonight I am headed to Citadel Hill in Halifax to catch Ben Harper in concert. Ben Harper has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember. I have no idea who introduced me to his music, but it was likely during a summer of lifeguarding. I have carried his music with me for the last 10 years and await his latest albums with eager anticipation. I am lucky enough to be taking in this concert with a dear friend from my junior high and high school days, someone who has indulged my Benny obsession for as long as I can remember, my partner in crime from my time at the beach, or maybe just my partner in crime for life.
Nostalgia can also be the feeling you get when you return to a place from your past. My return to Angers during my honeymoon made me nostalgic for my carefree days of pastry eating, wine drinking, French speaking and new love. Walking through the streets of Angers with my new husband (whom I met and fell in love with in Angers) was pleasurable, eerie and regretful. Eerie because the people we once knew were, for the most part, no longer there. It was the exact same and at the same time very different. It was regretful because it made us yearn for that life, where we had no responsibilities, where everything was new and exciting, where food tasted so damn good, where the lifestyle is so unlike our life in North America.
As a final thought on nostalgia, or déjà vu, or however you would like to term it, we are having a rocking good dinner tonight of roast chicken with vegetables. As my husband and I debated over how to prepare it, we thought of the many times Janine made roast chicken for us in France. She had a way of injecting flavour by putting cloves of garlic, butter and thyme under the skin of the chicken.
We briefly reminisced and engaged in friendly debate as to how to prepare it. My final thought is on that wonderful smell, which brings back so many memories of dinners shared with loved ones. If only I could share that with you tonight!