In my day…
February 24, 2013 § 15 Comments
As a kid I wondered about his yearning for what no longer was and his disdain for what it had become after it escaped his grasp.
I lived in the teeming now. What could be more exciting?
I understand better now.
As it was in my grandfather’s experience, the way the world operated was different when I was growing up.
I don’t miss the physical workings of that old world so much. I don’t pine for the curly cord on the phone—although it was fun wrapping it around my hand while sitting on the laundry room floor talking to my boyfriend.
What I miss are the agreed-upon character traits that were valued.
In my day people were thrifty. We boiled the bones. We hemmed the pants and let them down as the wearer grew, and hemmed them up again when the pants were handed down to a younger sibling. In my family the army mess hall adage, “Take all you want but eat all you take” was gospel.
In my day we understood the difference between together and apart. We didn’t carry everyone we knew in a device in our pocket, responding like Pavlov’s dogs to each jingle. When apart we missed each other properly. We walked a letter to the mailbox and checked for an answer every day—even when it was way too soon to hope. Love thrived on anticipation. While apart we knew how to be alone.
In my day truth did not belong to the highest bidder, the loudest shouter. Truth was fact-checked and “fair and balanced” did not mean that Darwin and Creationists deserved equal time.
Except for those parade-balloon-huge personalities like Elvis and the Beatles, in my day we were anonymous. We dragged no comet trails behind us, left no reports of what we ate for breakfast or what we did at Disney. We came and went without fuss.
In my day modesty was in style, not just the modesty that would make showing off your butt crack an embarrassment, but the modesty that separated us from those who were featured in the grocery store tabloids. “Reality” was a quiet place, not a stage for blowhards.
In my day we did this, then this, then this, in a dignified, linear fashion. We did not sit like a spider in a web, tugging multiple threads. Life was coherent.
In my day it took more than 3.2 seconds to become impatient.
In my day we could stitch a button hole, tune up a car, grow a tomato worthy of the name and find our way from point A to point B without a canned voice advising us to turn left in .2 miles.
To be fair, the world moved more slowly then. We had time to figure things out. And more of the world was accessible with the use of a screwdriver. Now what breaks is hermetically sealed, requires computer diagnostics, and is always cheaper to replace than fix.
Still, while as a species we are more advanced, as individuals we can’t do squat.
I could go on and on, but I hope this was sufficiently cranky.
Unlike my grandfather, I know I have a stake in this new, imperfect world. It’s time to return to the teeming now. I have no choice.
This too is my day.