This machismo about leaving home is still pervasive. You hear it in the disdainful way some college-educated people refer to “townies.” According to this view of things, those who remain where they grew up must lack curiosity or ambition. But while leaving home may be an American legacy, it’s not human nature. For the bulk of human history young people didn’t leave friends and family and everything they knew to set up different lives hundreds or thousands of miles away. Is homesickness really something we should aspire to overcome? If you love your home, why bother to re-create it elsewhere?
These days, while it’s not as permissible as it once was for an adult to muse about, say, missing her parents, it is more than permissible to indulge in casual nostalgia for one’s childhood. Specifically, we miss the brands of our childhoods. We fetishize that old Commodore 64, we lament mix tapes having disappeared. We dress like the ‘80s–no, the ‘90s–again, and recycle the past ever faster. Matt wonders if, in the face of rapid change, we have sublimated our longing for home, for the way things used to be, into a passion for retro objects. This type of nostalgia lets us signal cultural hipness instead of the rootlessness and neediness we feel deep down.