Vintage. It’s all the rage. Vintage decor, vintage t-shirts, vintage Elton John albums. You name it vintage, people want it. You name it vintage Elton, I have it (please don’t tell my husband).
With plenty of isolation (AE and then COVID), we play a lot of games at our house: What was the best part of today?; Would you rather?; If you had a million dollars, where would you go? Question last week: What was the best year of your life?
I answered in a flash. 1998. I was an 8th grader. It was before the high school angst set in, but after all the viral nastiness had run its course through our class.
I had my first babysitting job. My best friend Lacie and I rollerbladed all over our small town. I loved my friends. I lived to play basketball. And the music. God, the music. Bowman had a new TV channel, VH1. You could listen to Goo Goo Dolls music videos, all day long. You “Mmmm-bopped” and “Return[ed] to Innocence.” You had a favorite Backstreet Boy. Life was so fun and so simple.
What is it about vintage that we long for? Easy. The nostalgia. The memories. The feelings of Thanksgiving dinner when all of your grandparents were alive, and telling stories. Your first surprise birthday party. The first time you danced with a hot guy to a song you loved and swore it meant something (that never happened to me, people tell me things). Dinner time with your parents and your siblings, talking about your day at school. For me, so much of that nostalgia, is buried in the 90s.
After getting sick, I had a lot of time on my hands and the ability to do very little. So I started watching old 90s sitcoms. I then felt a surge of craving vintage 90s artifacts (I haven’t turned into a hoarder … yet). I ordered silly t-shirts (Bartlet for America), hoop earrings, and turtlenecks. I found the Christmas Muppet Babies from McDonald’s, circa 1990. I dug out and recreated old photographs, most recently, one taken exactly 20 years apart with two old friends from Chicago and California.
I also found a vintage Bowman Bulldogs letterman jacket, well, two actually. One from my dad’s classmate, and another passed down between two older friends from the 70s to the 90s. Before finding and giving me the handed down one, my friend Barb asked, “Stebbs, really, an old letterman jacket?”
Yes, really. I know what it is. My newfound time and perspective on life have given me all sorts of nostalgia. Feelings of longing for the past. Reminders of what it was like to live in the 90s, as a kid at home, with not a care in the world, except girls basketball drama, and avoiding scary upperclassman.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned into Uncle Rico (“Bet I can toss that ball right over the mountains!”), but I’m having fun going back. And, I’m unapologetic about it. Let yourself do it. Recreate an old photo. Dig out your letterman jacket, and wear it to a game. Play your CDs from high school. Embrace your nostalgia.
And, tell your parents that you’re sorry for all the times you rolled your eyes at them when they told you a story about using your grandmother’s dishes, or when they played a song from their high school prom. They were actually on to something.
Have a good day.
*Editor’s Note: This blog could have had so many titles. In a close second, was “Save Tonight.” When we got our coveted driver’s licenses at the end of the summer in 1998, we frequently rode in Lacie’s car, a Pontiac 6000, and repeatedly blared that song in her cassette deck. Lacie played a vital caretaking role for me, during my AE diagnosis. She is the designer of the JM Stebbins logo and my face vector. Her talent is boundless! Check her out @loupinedesign on Etsy, FB, and Insta.*
“So take the photographs and still frames in your mind Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial For what it's worth it was worth all the while
“It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right I hope you had the time of your life” ~ Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day