Monday, June 25, 2012

1995 Was a Great Year to be Nine Years Old

Arguably one of my favorite blogs is Fourth Grade Nothing. The author grew up in the 70s and 80s, and most of the posts are spent reminiscing about her childhood. I love reading it. It's sort of like oral history. Actually, that's exactly what it's like. I wasn't around for much of the 80s, and none at all for the 70s, so it's really cool to read about another person's experiences.

I also love Children of the 90s, because I am one.

I don't remember much at all about the 80s, except for snatches here and there, memories of snow, my dad's Isuzu truck, and maybe a little Disney World. I was born in 1986, and spent a little over three years in the glorious 1980s (they really do look fabulous...) before the clock struck midnight and January 1, 1990 rolled in.

My most favorite memories are of the 90s, when I really grew up. Like so many other people who remember their childhood, I just feel like everything was so much better then. School supplies were definitely more awesome, and everything we take for granted now was a novelty.

I think that's why third grade was my favorite year of school. I mean, yeah, it had its times of suckage, but that was all elementary school drama. It was 1995 when the school year began, and I was almost nine years old. I freaking loved shopping for school supplies, and mine were epic. I had a suede backpack, all different earth-toned colors, and it closed with a drawstring and a flap. My chin-length hair (which was straight then) and my spaghetti strap dress over a white t-shirt made me feel so fashionable. Like really. I had style. I think.

My favorite school supply was my Trapper Keeper, which had some computer generated, abstract image on it. Man, that was so cool. Trapper Keepers are back, yeah, but it's not the same. They're boring. Vintage, supposedly. To a 90s kid? Bleh.

I'd taken a little creative license with the school supply list and convinced my mom that the sparkly glittery crayons would be fine. (They weren't. We did color mixing that year. Turns out peridot doesn't count as yellow.) I remember my teacher reading Ellen Tebbits that year. The world was our acid trip as we collectively obsessed over Lisa Frank. I think I had a pocketbook by that time, mostly because my cousin, the same age as me, had one and I desperately needed one too. I don't think I ever used it.

Please, all of yall tell me you remember plastic pacifier necklaces, yin-yangs everywhere, and Yikes! pencils and stuff. My fiance found some at his house, the green and purple particle wood sharpened down to just three inches long.

The Bookmobile, and extension of our local library, came every three weeks and parked right across the street from our little house, and I devoured The Babysitters Club and Goosebumps. I think I learned to love reading then. Not sure when the biting sarcasm developed.

That was the year we got cable, and it was absolutely amazing. I watched all of one channel, Nickelodeon. Back then, you had to order the Disney Channel extra, so I never watched that as a kid. Nickelodeon was enough. It had previously been a treat reserved only for weekend trips to my Gramma's house in Virginia, or for when we were at my Granny's house across town. Snick was the perk of a weekend at Gramma's, and Are You Afraid of the Dark rocked my world.

In 1995, I discovered Star Wars. My parents rented it, and it blew my mind. I'd never seen anything like it before. I mean yeah, I watched Star Trek The Next Generation on TV, but I have only a few memories of that and no emotional attachment. Star Wars made me love movies. Better than that, it made me love good storytelling. I had a homemade Star Wars cake that year, with Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker on it. The writing was done in blue gel on white icing. Epic.

My goal was to eventually make a lightsaber with a white blade. I daydreamed of finding that special crystal in my schoolyard.

We didn't have Internet yet then. I mean, it existed, but for most of the public, it was a little bit of a novelty. We didn't even have a computer. Family friends did, and I remember playing with a program at my parents' friends' house where you would speak into the microphone, and the parrot on-screen would repeat what you said. It yelled at me when I used the word stupid once.

I thought the internet looked so cool, with all the AOL keywords and games and a whole world out there, right at our fingertips.

I begged my dad to get a computer with a "motive" so we could get on the internet.

He laughed at me. The computer with the "motive" didn't come until the next year, around the same time we got Minnie.

After 1995, it got crazy. Technology changed at a dazzling rate of speed. I didn't know what a cell phone was then, and I had no idea, in 1995, what a laptop was. (I would later discover this technical marvel while watching Independence Day, in which a Powerbook was used to kill aliens.) No year, for the rest of that decade, ever felt as aweome. Blips of cool popped up here and there, such as seeing Star Wars (Special Edition!) in the theater and getting a puppy (10th birthday...double-digits rock). Back before the new Star Wars trilogy came along and partly broke the hearts of fans everywhere (but we're loyal lovers.) Back before the Y2K scare, before 1999 got stale, and back when kids weren't lazy. Back when anything was possible, but what else could have been better? Forget tomorrow. Today, there are pools to cannonball into, Death Stars to blow up, just in front of the swingset, and Warball games to play, beat or be beaten.

Yes, 1995 was truly a great time to be nine years old. I don't think the world's any worse. We're certainly aware of more now. I think we might've appreciated childhood a little more if ourselves now could go back in time and show our younger selves that this Saturday at the pool is a blessed and rare day off. But why ruin the fun?

And by the way, I still want that white lightsaber.

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