I use the Lithium channel on XM radio mostly to punish my children while we are in the car. “What IS this music, Mom. You are so old, my ears are seriously bleeding here.” But there’s also this little part of me that uses it to remember.
Emily is in 9th grade.
Once upon a time, so was I.
(Don’t do the math please if you care about my feelings at all.)
On days when Emily comes to me to ask for a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens boots, while she’s wearing a Led Zeppelin concert t-shirt under a giant plaid flannel shirt, I remember every detail of my experience so vividly, because mine seemed (or looked) almost identical.
Docs, Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt, oversized flannel. Unfortunately, high school yearbooks are truth tellers.
So many things don’t change, it seems, or they come full circle. It warms my heart how in some ways Emily is so like me, and is having similar experiences. For her it’s the Justin Bieber concert, for me it was The Cranberries. For her it’s athletic council, and for me it was student council. For her it’s Aroma, for me it was Dunkin’ Donuts. For her it’s binge-watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Saved By The Bell. For me it was having to wait every week to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Saved By The Bell. For her it’s video chatting with her friends on oovu (whatever that is) until she falls asleep, for me it was chatting with my friends on the actual phone (woo three-way calling!) until I fell asleep. For her it’s karaoke and “chills,” for me it was Ken’s Diner and bowling. For her it was endless trips to the mall to buy Bath and Body Works, for me it was endless trips to the mall to buy Bath And Body Works, but back then we had Sun-Ripened Raspberry and Plumeria.
She works harder than she should (like me) and she has an amazing group of friends (like me). The problems are the same—stresses about grades (except in Canada they call them marks), about boys, about friends, about needing to get rides everywhere.
But in the early 90s we did not have that thing called the internet. Computers were still just up-and-coming weird things that we really only used to make Print Shop banners and to die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. We didn’t take selfies, we couldn’t text (but we could pass actual notes back and forth!), or snapchat. We had no way of finding our friends without pay phones and/or comedies of errors. We had to use the library to write papers—we used microfiche readers to search for information, we knew things about the dewey decimal system, we used giant Encyclopedia Brittanicas. We couldn’t binge-watch anything unless we set our VCRs to record and waited, and waited, and waited. We had blackboards with actual CHALK. Our gossip disappeared because it didn’t have it’s own carbon footprint. We couldn’t solve a pop culture question (“Wait, what movie do I know that guy from?”) within seconds.
Some days I’m super jealous of her experience — of having the world in the palms of her hands, or, you know, her smartphone.
And some days I wish she could have had mine — of being blissfully disconnected from having the world in the palms of her hands.
Or at least liked to listen to Lithium in the car.