What does a listicle do? It creates a space for an anonymous community. Its members are aware of each other so far as they can imagine another person sitting in front of their computer, scrolling through a list of memes that represent a feeling in its exactitude. Or it plants the seed of desire for 15 Amazon best-sellers that every household should have. Or it recommends the top 10 arthouse horror films that you and your friends just have to watch this weekend, for fear of turning into a bored conformist. The last of these uses is perhaps the most imperative too.
But this listicle is looking for ease. This listicle simply cannot carry the burden of being universally resonant, she cannot overtax her limits anymore. She, instead, is a refuge for warm thoughts that are selfishly personal. Here are 5 things that make me painfully nostalgic in the winter.
1. The Smell of My Roommate’s Tea
Warm spices and the holiday season are a couple almost as infatuated with one another almost as I am with them. A fairly westernized intermingling, it is one that belongs more to the British storybook characters I grew up with than what was around me. The idea of Christmas cake, hot chocolate, mulled wines and warm ciders always hurts. They are condensed atoms, carrying in them the season of reflection and repose, mnemonically recalling the same season as it came to pass previously. My roommate’s tea has cinnamon and cloves in it, and makes sensible another memory — recent ones where friends talk over snacks about their day. Small comforts are worth more than they ever were when the large, hyperobjects of assignments loom in the horizon.
2. Singing with a Friend but Seriously
Memories of school are prominent in many minds. Performance features invariably in some of them, and I do not enjoy the exclusive privilege of having sung in a choir. Singing with friends in an unstructured setting is nostalgic in a different way. It is marked by laughter, mistakes that don’t need correcting and limbs that have lazily climbed over one another. Singing in a choir is all about preparation, perfection and posture. The discipline it demands is intoxicating, the rhythms of its routine stuporous. To revisit its rigour with a college friend reminds me of how embodied an experience it is to sing every day, for singing to be everything just for a while. It’s curious that music practices were often scheduled in the winter break.
3. Reading, Strangely Enough
Picture this: Sunlight struggles through the fog to trickle into the reading room, obscured but warm still. I need to wear my coat anyway because the lightest breeze leaves goosebumps in its wake. I’m playing some slow, silly song out loud, maybe by Lou Reed, that floats lazily around the room until it fills it up, bathing it in a hazy melody. I am reading a Russian novel full of affectation, making me nostalgic about a time period that never belonged to me, one preserved in these bursting characters. I share with them only the fullness of this strange yearning I am feeling, the fundamental constituents of our emotions the same even if their expression finds wildly different avenues. Lo and behold, I am in love with the idea of remembering as much as I am with what I am remembering.
4. The Bathrooms When Someone is Showering
It is not often that college students wax poetic about the pleasant condition of hostel bathrooms. If only its reality was as comforting as the atmosphere created when someone showers. There’s a warm mist on which the floral notes of body wash can be detected, mingling with the notes of a song someone feels carefree enough to sing. It’s reminiscent of comfort and relaxation, the two chasing each other until they are at complete equilibrium: satiated.
5. Lying in Bed
My blanket is the perfect weight. It holds me in a lethargic embrace, soft enough to still be light. I might be listening to music, I might be talking to my sister. I might be doing nothing at all but lying still and contemplating the fact that I am awake. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I am anywhere, even home. It is tempting to be numb but I make an effort to feel the griping pangs of nostalgia, a feeling that promises me that life can be, has to be full, if memories are anything to go by.
Edited by Nishtha Jaiswal (ASP 2019)