After spending about five weeks in Europe this past summer, I compiled an impressive collection of secondhand books. There was the entire Harry Potter series in French, the Kurt Vonnegut novel with a love note scrawled on the inside cover, a look-book of Yves St. Laurent’s designs, a funny little picture book about two very ugly monsters falling in love in Paris, a vintage Spiderman comic – and the list goes on. My luggage was already slightly overweight when I flew into Lyon, and the situation became much, much worse on my flight home.
I went back and forth between weighing my suitcase and rearranging my things for about three hours in the middle of the airport. I threw out towels, clothing, shoes – but I refused to part with my beloved books. The result was that I wore several layers of clothing (dresses, socks, men’s jackets) with books stuffed in the waistbands of my many pants. I was asked more than once if I was traveling up North (which really doesn’t even make sense…why would I have already started layering up?)
When I recounted this story back home, everybody asked me, why on earth did you buy so many books? All these books could have been purchased here or found online, why was it necessary to fly them over from another continent?
I was indignant. Where would I find the entire Harry Potter series in French that could document my journey in St. Etienne so beautifully? There was a little second-hand book and record store just outside of the university that I was studying at and I stumbled into it on my lunch break one day and discovered the third Harry Potter. It became like a mini-adventure, each day hoping that I would find another book in the series.
Where would I find a Kurt Vonnegut with a “Chere Marie, tu me manques!” written in barely legible handwriting on the inside? When else would I visit “Shakespeare & Co.” – the place that famous writers from all over the world would sleep and write and live – and find the St. Laurent look-book? When else would I stroll along the River Seine, looking at all the vintage booths and learning the owners’ strange and lovely stories?
There were classic record shores at every turn, hundred-year-old books being sold at every street corner, and colourful, interesting thrift stores for people of all styles. I felt nostalgic about these items, being drawn into my own Midnight in Paris, reminiscing a past that I found far more poetic. I felt nostalgic about my own two-decade-long past, reflecting on the decisions I had made and feeling reassured that I had made the right ones because here I was, walking down the streets of Paris with my best friends. And I felt an overwhelming nostalgia hovering above me, fully aware that in a few short weeks it would envelope me whole once I returned home. It was a nostalgia for this trip where I had found new dreams, new identities, new friends, and new love.
And so, we present to you ANDY’S “nostalgia” issue – as we look back on all those things that have brought us to where we are now.