By the ’80s I’d have given into commercial, monetary needs and gotten some job in New York, wearing shoulder-padded suits and trying to get into Studio 54. At the time when I was actually born, I’d have settled down, gotten married and maybe even had children. It would have been perfect, if I could just go back in time.
I actually thought this was something that would have been possible. Like I was in Forrest Gump or something. In reality, my own parents didn’t even follow my imaginary life plan and they actually lived through these decades. It’s just not the common experience to relate to every social trend mentioned in the Popular Culture chapter of a history textbook.
But I know I’m not alone in my inexplicable nostalgia. I hear the same song from others, mostly young, all the time. We pick these gems that are supposed to represent a time period and we run with them, perhaps without considering the downside. In my historical fantasy I didn’t think about segregation and how some of my friends wouldn’t be allowed to attend the same school as me — or worse — that I’d be raised with bigotry myself. Odds are more than likely that I’d have fewer opportunities as a young person and a woman than I do today. It wouldn’t be all typewriters and original Beatles albums. Perhaps it’s not so much nostalgia for a time I didn’t experience, but a time that didn’t actually exist.
Because we’re on the brink of a presidential election, we, as spectating Americans, are supposed to evaluate the past four years. And according to the two suits grabbing for our attention, we should feel one of two ways: They were a disaster or they were really not that bad considering the circumstances. And while I may have whimsical ideas about the time before I was born, I have a pretty decent grasp on reality. I can’t give into trivializing a great chunk of my adult life to make one politician look better than the other.
We live in a pretty amazing time. I can use this space to write freely and honestly and my only concern is menial digital backlash. If we want to learn something we type a question in a magic box and the biggest challenge is making sure you’re checking your facts.
I refuse to look back on these last four years as a series of failures and accomplishments by some man I’ve never met in my life. And I don’t think future history books will look back on this decade as the fall of America, either. My generation’s kids will probably just read about iPods, reality shows, skinny jeans and other “vintage” things to obsess over.
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