Some days, I wander around in a sepia-toned daydream, longing wistfully to spend even the briefest of moments in the past. It never matters to me what era; the eighties, the thirties, the fifteen-hundreds -- any of them would do. I want to know what it was like to walk down the streets of New York City in 1925 and hear smooth jazz pouring out of the windows of a speakeasy. I want to know what it was like to be able to leave the doors to your house unlocked and not fear intruders. I want to know what it was like to spend hour after hour parked at a drive-in movie, my hair in curls and my legs in a circle skirt, in 1955. I want to know what it was like to watch television for the first time. And I want to know what it was like to watch color television for the first time. I can't imagine what a shock to the system that would be, all of a sudden seeing color where there once was none. I want to know what it was like to see the first "talkie" film following the silent era. I want to know what it was like to not know smoking was bad for you and what it was like to be a woman in 1920 with the brand new right to vote. I want to know what it was like to experience adolescence in the eighties. Would my hair be outrageously teased or would I have stuck with the long, straight style of the seventies? Would I listen to Def Leppard or Cyndi Lauper? Both, most likely. Would I sneak out of the house to go see AC/DC? Probably, yeah. If I experienced adolescence in the eighties, I would experience young-adulthood in the nineties. I would ask if my college years would be spent listening to Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the answer is yes so there is no need.
I romanticize the past; I think that we all do from time to time. We have these momentary lapses where we forget all the horrors of the past that we have studied in history classes from first grade to college, and we reminisce on times we never lived in, on times in which we weren't even a blip on the radar of existence. Everyone dreams of simplicity, of being able to experience life like a black and white photo and a smile. Everyone wakes up, at least once, wishing to go back in time, to step outside of our own reality and expose ourselves to those we've only read about and seen photos of.
I yearn to meet my parents at my age. Or my grandparents. Either really. I would love to know if we would have been friends if we had grown up together. My dad and I would have probably vehemently disliked one another, at least until we had matured a bit and realized being too similar isn't always a bad thing. My mom would have been the person I snuck out with for that AC/DC concert and we would have probably lived together in college, at least until we realized being too similar can sometimes a bad thing.
My maternal grandfather and I would have probably been like brother and sister; he'd make sure no guys were rude to me at school and I'd pick on him about the girls he'd choose to date. My maternal grandmother and I would have been best friends, without-a-doubt, and we probably would have spent hour after hour parked at drive-in movies. My paternal grandfather and I would have been part of the same congregation at church, but we probably would have never spoken to each other and my maternal grandmother and I would have scoured flea markets together and done each other's hair.
It is entertaining, if nothing else, to ponder what life would have been like if I were living it sixty years ago. It is a bit disheartening, too, because I'll never know. I can imagine it as much as I like. I can dream it, I can write about it, and I can put my face over those in old photos, but I can never actually live it.
Our age group will never know a world without computers and cell phones. We will never know a word without DVD players, or PlayStations, or Titanic and the door they both could fit on. We will never live without the Internet for more than a few hours and we will never experience meeting someone for the first time and having them ask to see us again instead of asking us for our phone number or our Snapchat.
It is a strange circumstance, residing in the middle. We will never know life without certain things, just as those who came long before us never knew a life where they could ask out a date on Tinder or "poke" someone without it being creepy. They never knew that a phone would someday be a calculator, a camera, a phone book, a calendar, and a connection to anywhere in the world, simultaneously. They never knew that we'd be able to watch almost any film or television show ever created at the click of a button and they never knew a life in which everyone could marry anyone they wanted.
It is ultimately quite the paradox, this longing for the past. Those who lived hundreds of years ago -- those who lived only fifty years ago -- strived for innovation, creation, and abundance. And now that we have things beyond their wildest dreams, we wish for times they wished to escape, only they didn't want to go backward. They wanted to go forward.
We are living in an interesting time, a time that future generations will look back on in their history classes to learn of our successes and our mistakes. They will question what we have done, what we have yet to do, who we honored, and who we chose to lead. They will compare us to earlier times and ask why we as a people decided to take steps backward when there were far better things ahead. The future will ask us why we divided and why we took so long to come together. The future will ask us why we were broken and judgmental, and angry and contemptuous.
Amidst all of the questions, however, they, too, will long for our time because whether we can imagine it or not, to them it will be simpler. They will, in momentary lapses, forget all of our horrors and long for two thousand and seventeen. They will want to know us and to know if they would have been friends with us at their age. They will want to know what it was like to live in the world we live in. Our great, great, great grandchildren will replace our faces in photos with their own and they will comb through our Facebook archives as we do old letters and diaries.
Let us leave them something wonderful to find.