Saudade, or Nostalgia

Adela H. Kim

HEIDELBERG, Germany—I tap my fingers against the window anxiously, as if doing so will somehow prompt the Number 4 tram to move faster. It’s 7:27 pm—a minute after my friend is supposed to get in at Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof. I want to be there at the platform when he arrives to greet him with a huge smile and a hug. I was supposed to get in at 7:24 pm. But Germany seems to have discarded its stereotypical efficiency in the wake of its World Cup match against France: People are everywhere, including the top of the tram tracks. They do not have a care in the world—they proudly wave their flags, drink beer, and cheer.

When I do finally make it to the train station and find my friend, I can hardly believe that we haven’t seen each other since January. We pick up right where we left off, both cracking jokes at each other and hashing out our quarter-life crises. On our way to the city center, we are loud, raucous Americans, attracting even the fully-inebriated celebrators’ attention. But we don’t care—we are just happy to be in each other’s company.

It seems that with every passing year, it becomes increasingly hard to see one’s high school friends. Exotic internships place us on opposite ends of the world. And over winter and spring breaks, we are busy traveling and spending time with family—or our breaks don’t overlap.

It’s lucky—and coincidental—that my friend and I are merely three hours away this summer, with me in Karlsruhe and him in Paris. After this, we won’t see each other again until November. I’m plagued by nostalgia for childhood, when we would see each other daily. We would go over to each other’s houses and rummage through the kitchen shelf, eating all the chocolate in a sacred “chocolate tasting ceremony.” Sometimes, I wish that we could go back just for a day and be the silly kids we once were.

Without that nostalgia, though, moments like this wouldn’t feel so special. We travel to Heidelberg next day, soaking in the beautiful view from the top of the mountain and roaming around town. We do all the expected touristy things, from taking the funicular train to walking across the famed Heidelberg Bridge to eating Schnitzel with spätzle. The town is spectacular, and yet it is the company that makes the trip truly memorable. My friend suggests—no, insists—that we stay at this bar and watch Brazil and Costa Rica face off in penalty kicks, drinking one too many beers, and I am happy just to follow along. Of course, I do tease him an ample amount about his newly discovered enthusiasm for soccer.


As we bid each other goodbye at the train station, each of us embarking on a different train, I try to push out the sadness. Growing up feels weird. When I was young, my parents always told me to enjoy childhood. It doesn’t last forever, they’d tell me. I would brush off the advice as a mere cliché. But—as with many things—they were right. I suppose that adulthood does one good thing: It makes us that much more appreciative of where we’ve been.   

Adela H. Kim’16, a Crimson arts editor, is a history of art and architecture concentrator in Lowell House.


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