The Past Meets the Present


Above: Me and college friends.

I had one of those days when the past collides unexpectedly with the present. You never know when that will happen.

One of the weird things about being in this odd middle phase is you think you’re still young, yet there are ties to the past that creep up and make you feel your age. Today it was hearing a name from the long distant past and watching “Singles.”

If you don’t remember that movie, “Singles” was one of those films, like “Reality Bites,” that were supposed to define my generation. Seattle, grunge and all that. To be honest, I was too young when it came out to “get it” but I always loved the soundtrack and particularly “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns.” By a band whose lead singer actually died years before the movie actually even came out – which is terribly tragic.

I do feel a kinship with the millennials, in that I think there are some parallels with Gen X. I mean, we didn’t clean up the environment like we wanted to, but I do think we were non-conformist in some ways. I like “Girls” and relate to the bohemians on that show, even if I’m too insecure about money to live that kind of life. I think you usually have to come from money to be able to reject it so adamantly, and I certainly did not.

Anyway, it seems like both a million years and thirty minutes ago that I listened to “Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns” in the sorority house (how conformist), laced up my faux Doc Martens (I was too poor for the real ones), meticulously coiffed my hair and applied my Mac beige lipstick while getting ready for a night out. Sidenote: why did we pay so much attention to our hair and makeup when we were basically dressed in denim tuxedos and rags? Although our skin tone was the bomb, when we didn’t break out.

I was so very broke in college and it was a real source of insecurity but that was probably the best place and time to be broke.

Anyway, now I am less broke, more old and married with kids. My husband’s college had a reunion recently and apparently a huge source of sadness among the men was that the beautiful girls they had gone to school with weren’t young any more. Like, these tough guys were sad to think about the passage of time and nothing symbolized that more that the hot girls with three or four kids and crow’s feet. I get it. I do.

Sometimes, there’s nothing I want to be more than the girl with the faux Docs. But I remember, she wasn’t as happy as I am now. She was so insecure.

Do you think about the passage of time? Or do you rarely look back, thankful it is behind you?


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7 responses to “The Past Meets the Present

  1. St. Elsewhere

    Oh, I look back all the time (and consider it to be a weakness too, because sometimes I am too there)!

    I had a very different college experience at undergrad and post-grad level.

    One defining thing is that I considered myself fat through all those years, when, I now realize that I was much much lighter then. Phew, I should have known better.

    Second, as an undergrad, I was going through some personal turmoil, which combined with my awkwardness made the college experience not that exciting. I was sailing through, but underperforming academically.

    I then did a diploma which was revealing in a lot of ways to me. It did not do much for me professionally, but it gave me a good taste of the world.

    My business degree years were my best college experience years. I had my highs and lows, but it was all well, and I did much better academically too.

    Those years, I had lot of time and not much money to spend. Now, I have no time, and money of my own, and those people, and those times are not coming back.


  2. Kir Piccini

    Sometimes…I wish I could live two lives. Or go back , just once, with all the knowledge I have now. But! But then what lessons would I learn, how could I have the strength and wisdom of today without the mistakes of yesterday?

    I just don’t know. Today is sweet, yesterday was too. So I look back in order to know what way I’m headed.

    Loved this piece.

  3. That’s funny, at my high school reunion, I remember noticing that most of the women had aged well. Some of them really grew into themselves and figured out their “look”, gained confidence, etc. Others were just doing a good job with hair, makeup, and staying thin. Whereas the men were balding and had beer bellies. Some were unrecognizable! I wonder how the men at your husband’s reunion were faring themselves, if they were so concerned about the women aging. 🙂

  4. St. Elsewhere

    That is why I will always love ‘Sliding Doors’.

  5. When I brought my son to preschool this year I bumped into a mom from my undergrad who I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 decades and her sweet little IVF baby. So strange.

    I agree with you about being so much happier now than I was in college (although I would prefer to stay in college, physically speaking). I didn’t have any money then either. I don’t have a ton now but I mostly feel that I have enough and am in control financially at this point and that is a big improvement.

  6. I think I was pretty happy in college, despite my insecurities … I had a group of friends who loved me pretty fiercely. I think I’ve cultivated that as an adult, and in many ways I’m happier, but life is also more complicated … and I am more aware of my shortcomings, in a way that is reflective … if that makes any sense. I’m better at psychoanalyzing myself. 😉 Not sure where that leaves me …

    (though I liked Sliding Doors, too.)

  7. Wow. You and I are about the same age, aren’t we? I graduated from high school in 1990 and from college in 94. There are some things that I look back on and it’s just that all cliché I wish I had the ability to go back with all the knowledge I have now. My body and body image is one of them. I have truly struggled since infertility and pregnancy with getting some semblance of my physical fitness back on track. It was so much easier than though it was the years after college really — The late 20s when I was so fit and it all seemed effortless. My body and it’s hormones are all out of whack now and so for that I do look back with wistfulness. The rest of it was pretty crappy. I agree with the in order to abandon the idea of money you have to come from it…. I was pretty heavily into the hippie thing then. That’s the weirdness now… I look at this liberal (though I think my presentation is more on the preppy/conservative side) Volvo driving suburban mom and think what???! I do spend some time wondering about how I can recapture the passion I had for some things when I was younger… Environmentalism is one of them, the belief that we would change the world… I’m very cynical now. And my eyelids have disappeared. 😉

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