This past weekend I took the Turnpike down south to Baltimore, and spent all my time where I used to live in the predominantly-Jewish neighborhood of Pikesville. As I visited with old friends, walked the streets of my old neighborhood and ate in my old bagel shop, I experienced a pronounced sense of nostalgia. I stayed with a friend I've known for six years, but whose apartment I haven't entered in more than two years and found I remembered the strangest things. From the scent of the candles to the flavor of the toothpaste to where the forks are kept, I remembered them distinctly and realized that none had changed.
Being Jewish, nostalgia is a pretty familiar emotion. We Jews pine for a Temple that was destroyed more than 1900 years ago, we mythologize times when we were ghettoized in the urban centers of Europe (or in my case, the suburban areas), we build culture and educate our kids around notions of the past Shabbat and holiday meals we experienced as children.
Languorous and cozy as it felt to be surrounded by people who knew shared my faith and with whom I had spent so much time in the recent past, it gave me more of a chuckle than a tear. It was hilarious to see how little my friend had changed in the past two years and how little I had changed in some of the same respects. I loved my time in Baltimore, developed incredible friendships over the years and had some fantastic experiences - but I'm also glad I've moved on to a new stage in my life.
While I don't know when I'll next make the trip, but whenever it happens, it's nice to know that as much as the buildings, the restaurants and the living arrangements might change - it's also comforting to know that the warmth, hospitality and affection of my friends will stay the same.