Can you miss something you never loved?

I am experiencing a mysterious longing for the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ. Heaven knows, I was not a fan of the place. I went there when necessary, I drove my kids there when necessary, but I never yearned to cruise up and down its aisles in search of a parking space that wasn’t in a far-away galaxy.

I can’t figure this out. If I was wishing for a visit to the Barnes & Noble on Route 17 I could understand it. I have very pleasant memories of that store and of the times I spent there. But an over-sized, over-crowded, ever-spreading mass of concrete and cars and too many people? When I first visited the GSP in the late ’70’s it was a very unremarkable group of shops that weren’t enclosed yet. It was small and familiar-looking, just like the Reisterstown Road Plaza back in Baltimore before it morphed to its present size.

Maybe the operative word here is “familiar”. Can you miss something just because of that? I certainly don’t miss the crowds and congestion. But perhaps there’s something about the fact that I can still walk through the GSP Macy’s with my eyes closed. And if they haven’t moved too many stores around, I can sense when I come out of Macy’s and which way to turn to get to the escalator. With my eyes still shut I can figure out how far to walk before I’m standing in front of Restoration Hardware. And follow my nose to the Food Court.

Maybe it just takes a certain amount of time before a “new” place embodies that same sense of familiarity — the feeling that you know your way around blind-folded.

And maybe that’s why some folks find it hard to move on. They may not be fond of the place they’re in, but there’s something to be said for knowing exactly where you are.

3 Responses to "Irrational Nostalgia"

  1. Liz Strauss

    February 13, 2008

    Maybe you don’t miss the place at all. Maybe you miss the person who went there. What did she have that you’re looking to recover?

  2. colleen

    February 13, 2008

    Maybe it’s like craving a McDonalds burger and then getting one and say, Nah. I hope you’re not pregnant. I used to crave crap from my childhood when I was.

  3. sunny

    February 13, 2008

    Colleen – No, definitely not pregnant! But maybe it is just stuff from my younger years that I crave. Not sure what that is ’cause I do feel OK with where I am.
    Liz — Maybe as I attempt to come to terms with the idea of my daughter’s wedding, I’m trying to not forget the routines and experiences that brought us together, to this point in time.
    I am having some sort of senior moment that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking.
    Thanks for your feedback, guys. It always helps.

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