Many mutants know from my many times referencing it in comments; I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that owned a multigenerational midway (carnival), and my summers were full of time out “on the lot” for well over a decade as an employee, and even longer than that as a visitor.
The feeling of being on a fairground or festival lot is like nothing else to me. The hustle and bustle of so many people having fun and being free feels like “home” - feels like where I belong, perhaps surprisingly to some, feels peaceful.
I love that feeling so much that I moved to within a stone’s throw of the most extensive version of that on the planet - Disney World - so I could feel that nostalgic feeling as often as possible. And without fail, every time I enter the most magical place on earth, I feel at home. The carnival atmosphere of those parks triggers that feeling of nostalgia every time.
I am sure I am not the only one who has a place, or an event, or an experience that, when revisited or repeated, triggers that same sense of nostalgia, of belonging, of home - so what triggers the nostalgia wiring in your grey matter most acutely?
One thing that does it for me is low-budget horror/sci-fi films. Back in the day, my dad was a fan, and I remember seeing stuff like Troma films or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, or whateve weird thing Elvira would be showing when that showed up on syndication… Reminds me of watching those films as a kid…
I did this with my daughter too. She’s more of a horror movie buff than me now.
For me, much as I hate the place, it’s the redbrick architecture in my hometown. Sunderland is a horrid place, but the big fancy Victorian and Edwardian houses for ship captains and mining industry high muckety mucks are some of the best. Anywhere with similar streets takes me right back there. Crumbling red bricks with buddleia growing out of the corners.
The smell of the Pacific Ocean when I go back. It has a very specific smell, and it recalls for me my tween and teen years, spending days bodysurfing and bumming broken tacos shells from Taco Bell, which they used to give away for free in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Anytime I get to walk over rolling hills, or I’m working where there is cold windblown rain, I get nostalgic for home. But it has to be sustained strong wind and the rain has to be cold. In my youth I would spend hours just hiking around the copious hills in the West of Ireland.
There’s a Rammstein song called “Ohne Dich” which has a break of about 10 seconds near the end where they play the sound of strong wind and it gets me every time.
My parents were art students when I was born, though they went on to other things that made them much less happy later on. According to my mom, my first trip out as an infant was to an art store. Today, the complex of smells that’s only found in an art studio or a supply store- paper, canvas, charcoal, alcohol markers, clay, kneaded erasers- makes me feel safe, happy, and hopeful. It’s really the only time I feel that way.
I got a good dose of nostalgia visiting my old college campus last weekend. Walking through the Engineering department I was amazed to see that several of my old professors are listed as faculty, including one that my mom had taken a class from back when she was a student there. These guys were not especially young when I graduated 23 years ago. Some folks just don’t want to retire, I guess.
Also, my father-in-law was a professor at that school, and my wife and MIL were surprised and touched to see that even 16 or so years after he retired (and sadly passed away shortly after) they had left one of his handwritten equations taped up on the front of his old office door.