The biggest problem that writers face when they come face-to-face with an incredibly visceral, memorable, and awe-inspiring sight or sound is to think, “how can I put that into words?”.
Because, sometimes, we just can’t. Not without sacrificing what made it so special in the first place.
For example, earlier today – just when the sun had barely set over Picnic Point and the frozen Lake Mendota was shimmering its final reflections off its white surface – I sat on the balcony, my feet resting on one of the frozen trash cans littering the empty area, and entered into a somewhat out-of-body experience (although outsiders would probably have fled from the strange man sitting out in the cold with his mouth open).
I traveled back in time, past all of the trials and tribulations of college and high school, and even beyond the petty rivalries and skin-deep love of middle school. I went back to the very beginning. I don’t know why or how it happened, or if I am simply weird for experiencing it. All I know and understand is this: I was knocked nearly senseless by a powerful monsoon of melancholy. It was far more than a wave, the small rivulets of regret and rose-scented nostalgia that pervades our daily lives every once in a while. This was something more. Only when I returned to my senses that I realized it for what it was: a nearly insatiable gulf of yearning for a simpler past.
And now, as I sit in an empty computer lab at 4:00 AM in the morning studying for my British history midterm, I am accompanied by the soothing yet disorganized 16-bit melodies from the early Pokemon series (“Are you a boy … or are you a girl?”), the epitome of the simple pleasure of my young and carefree childhood. My early-morning drowsiness is blown away, replaced by a childish excitement that sends shivers up my spine. And suddenly, I’m no longer sitting in front of a sterile MacBook, with its sharp, grey corners and businesslike keys, but with a GameBoy Color in my hands – with its dented speakers, imperfect display, and tinny sound – starting out on a new adventure of my own.
I’ve always thought that people were exaggerating when they exclaimed, “This brought tears to my eyes!”. But I think I’m beginning to understand what they meant, as the melancholy tunes of New Bark Town break the silence in the dreary-white computer lab, where only I remain: stolidly typing out one line of British history after the next.