my baggage your baggage

16 December 2008

Recently my friend Monica and I had a fun email exchange on which decade was more “bad” – the seventies or the eighties.  In the end, I think my one anti-eighties list item: the abominable and utterly unflattering “high waisted, front pleated, tight ankled jeans” singly trumped all of her seventies’ “disco dancing, bell bottoms, Donny Osmond, Mork and Mindy and pet rocks,” but she may beg to differ.  And – though it sure wasn’t as much of an issue to me then as it is today – I will argue until the cows come home that bell bottoms definitely made your waist look smaller.

Of course Monica’s and my listings were shaped by our own experiences and memories of these times.  We’re all looking out a different window right?  My “pro-seventies” list that included things like feminism, folk rock, Joni Mitchell and Kris Kristofferson as some of the things that made the seventies great, might ring really NOT great to someone else.  And I’ll admit it; I still have a big crush on Kristofferson.  Maybe he just represents the look of a good period of time for me.  Or maybe the male species of that time.  One thing’s for sure, he definitely he recalls a time long before I found myself struggling through in a wildly busy, competitive world; a time when I didn’t have any stresses beyond wanting to impress the boy with the shaggy hair and mischievous eyes.

Recently I got looking at a teenage boy on the bus.  He was operating his cell phone in one hand and his MP3 player in the other.  His clothes, shoes and backpack looked expensive.  His hair looked coiffed, tended, and full of product.  I kept thinking about a picture that Lynn has of a bunch of us teenagers on a beach way back then, and that those marvellous male creatures with their long hair and bare chests and faded cut-offs were infinitely more beautiful than the boy on the bus with all his hardware

I know, I know.  I’m sounding all “when I was a girl things were different” and “oh those kids today.”  But travelling back in time now and then to explore who you once were can be an illuminating thing to do.  And while I can’t, by any stretch of the imagination, conjure a vision of myself that resembled anything like seventies earth goddesses Joni Mitchell or Rita Coolidge, it’s certainly easy to narrow the lens to eliminate Pet Rocks, Laverne and Shirley and disco dancing from my vision.  That’s what you can do with a memory, and that’s how you invent yourself based on the life “snapshots” you choose to keep; which baggage goes and which baggage stays. 

The most illuminating thing I discovered when time travelling?  When I really look hard at what I want out of this world; at my deepest desires and at those things that define me as a person, they are exactly the same things that ignited me when I was 17.  And that goes for boys too.

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