Back in Time, Virtually

Post image for Back in Time, Virtually

December 20, 2012

Can you feel nostalgic about something you don’t remember? There’s surely a clever word for the feeling, but I can’t find it. I’m pondering this, precisely 62 years and 68 minutes after my birth, because I stumbled upon the address of my first home. Thanks to Google Street View, I’ve can see the apartment building in Cincinnati. But it beckons no memory. I don’t remember the interior either, though black-and-white photos of my parents and me there are grainy treasures. Also thanks to Street View, all these years later I can “stroll” — or scroll — the neighborhood. We only lived there for several months, until my father earned his master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati.

While memories of that distant place and time remain inaccessible, I now can visualize my parents entering and leaving the building, and climbing the hill on Straight Street toward campus. And carrying me. I have geographical context for the first time, and it’s oddly comforting. So I’ll coin a word for such virtual visits, trips into my past I’ve taken beforenostoview in homage to Street View. The Greek word “nostos” means to return and helped to form “nostalgia.” Or better than nostoview is nostoogle. Regardless of the word, what the apartment looks like now from the street and how it looked with my parents inside are reason enough to actually go there.

Mom and Dad - Circa 1950