Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been able to describe places I’ve never been to, sometimes in great detail.
For example, one morning I described a dream to my then-girlfriend, a dream in which I sat at a cafe somewhere in France, on a street lined with lilac flowers. I knew it was France because of other patrons speaking French around me.
I wore a very sharp suit and tie, I even remember it was light grey; I remember a fedora on the table, and I was reading a French newspaper with a hyphenated two word headline, Paris-something. I don’t speak French, but in my dream I apparently did.
A few months later my girlfriend showed me a street on Google Maps that she had found of a street lined with lilacs that looked almost identical to the one in my dream. Some things were different, but too many things remained the same for the street to not be the same one in my dream. I had never been to France up to that point, but I had a vivid memory of it.
Sometimes I get a nostalgic feeling seeing something like a street or building where I know positively I’ve never been to, a feeling that gets especially strong when I visit a university campus with ivy growing on walls. I can’t claim to understand it or explain it, but the feeling is there and it’s extremely nostalgic, to the point where I stop walking or driving in order to let the moment linger.
Sometimes I feel I don’t belong here, like I was born in the wrong era. Sometimes I feel like I miss something I lost, but I can never figure out what it is that I miss. It’s a very strange thing to miss a thing without knowing the nature of that thing.
I rarely talk to anyone else about this subject because people shun those different from them, but I’ve always been curious how many of us have these feelings. I don’t believe I’m the only one.