“. . . those interested in perpetuating present conditions are always in tears about the marvelous past that is about to disappear, without having so much as a smile for the young future.” Simone de Beauvoir
One of the things I’ve never understood is wanting to return to a previous time. I’ve always tended to look forward.
I remember the first time I realized maybe I was a little different in looking back and looking forward. It was the day I graduated from high school. After graduation many of my classmates were crying. I honestly didn’t get it. It wasn’t that I hated my high school experience (as bad as the social hierarchy was); I was just ready for whatever was next. I didn’t need to know or understand what that was. There was a road ahead and I was going down it wherever it led.
There’s a story about me when I was really little, maybe 3? Somehow I escaped a house filled with a mother, three sisters, and a baby brother at the crack of dawn and was found by a neighbor running down Weaver Pike stark naked. I guess that’s who I’ve always been, someone seeing the road ahead and going down it, dressed as comfortably as possible.
Sometimes I get emails from friends and family with all those memes glorifying our childhood. You know the ones, with Dentyne gum and Roy Rogers hats and no bike helmets and no seat belts, all those things people remember and look back at fondly. Yes, I laugh thinking about my mother’s right arm slamming against whoever was in the front seat when she had to break harder than usual. And yes, I truly appreciate growing up in a neighborhood where all parents looked out for all kids.
But do I want to go back? Heck no! I remember separate water fountains and separate theaters. I remember being embarrassed by having a divorced mother. I remember my mother’s being advised not to keep our old house as a rental when she was ready to buy a new house simply because she was a woman. I remember her being turned down for bank loans, too, for the same reason.
What I know, and I really do know this, is we aren’t there yet. I want to be part of helping us get “there.”
This is one reason (to turn this into a political piece) I could never be a Republican. I don’t think my childhood was the glory days. I don’t think the Reagan years were the glory days. I don’t Bill Clinton’s presidency or Barack Obama’s were the glory days, either.
I think present tense is as close as I’ll ever get to the glory days, and present tense is constantly moving into the future.
Maybe next time I’ll muse about “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” (Steve Miller Band)