Everyone experiences nostalgia at some point in their lives. I got to have it twice.
I was born in 1958, which means that I largely missed “The Sixties.” Largely, but not quite entirely. Partly because of my own inclinations and the people I hung out with, partly because I was living in Minnesota before we all had instant access to everyone all the time, the Sixties endured remarkably well into the mid-Seventies. I hung out with peaceniks, and when Carter re-instituted draft registration, prepared to work at a draft clinic, helping people avoid the coming war.
In a sense, that was my first bout with nostalgia. I longed to be a hippy. No, not really. Hell, I was a shy, badly-bespectacled, shy, shy, shy diabetic who’d grown up about as a straight as you can. I mean, until college I had been drunk precisely once, and that because I had no idea the punch at that party was 80 proof. I had dated, very unsuccessfully, in high school, but man, was I square. And I longed to be groovy, to be a poet. I thought I could be an actor. I thought…many things.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about. As much as I miss that period of my life, what I think I miss more is the fact that it changed slowly. Let me explain.
Here’s a start: telephones in 1980 were pretty much like telephones in 1970. They had dials, the fancier ones had push buttons. But they were all pretty much the same devices, with a base on one end of a coiled handset cord. Typewriters changed a little, but not very much (the coolest thing in the world was the Correcting Selectric, but I digress). Calculators bloomed, but settled down pretty quickly. Cars changed every few years, but not all that much (though they did get smaller). Music had a more lasting quality–something you heard in 1970 would likely still be in circulation a decade later.
This was, of course, for all practical purposes before personal computers and certainly before the internet. There was time to digest things. Today, I feel uncomfortable if I’m not connected to everything at all times. Then–I could sit and read, and let the evening come in. I could ride my bike for the hell of it, and drink a beer when I got home, and not feel like I was missing things. I had less sense of dignity, and more of freedom.
Now, you may say that I bring all of the modern shit upon myself. I’m the one who uses Facebook. I write a blog (or two). I love my phone, and my technology.
Perhaps that’s true.
And yet, all I can think as I sit here writing this, is that I miss the ’70s.