Monday, February 25, 2008

1983

I'm mopping my floors today to the tune of Billboard's Top Ten Hits of 1983 and feeling splendidly nostalgic for a year that I spent desperately longing for something - anything - to happen.

That's what I loved about the movie My American Cousin. By the time it came out I was older - seventeen, I think - and still waiting for something to happen to me, so I felt an immediate jolt of recognition when the 12-year-old heroine flopped down on her bed, opened her diary and wrote "Nothing Ever Happens" in big ballpoint letters.



It starts at age twelve, I think, that restless, bone-deep boredom, when suddenly the back of your parents' car feels too small and the teenage world of romance and adventure is frustratingly out of reach. That, at least, is what comes to mind when I belt out the lyrics to this song:

Everytime I see you, well the rays of the sun are all
Streaming through the waves in your hair
And every star in the sky is taking aim at your eyes
Like a spotlight
The beating of my heart is a drum and it’s lost
And it’s looking for a rhythm like you
You can take the darkness from the deep of the night
And turn it to a beacon burning endlessly bright
I gotta follow it ‘cause everything I know
Well, it’s nothing ‘till I give it to you.

(Most of the lyrics, anyway: really, I sing "immature eyes" and "babe you know my heart is a drum" and then hum incoherently when I should be singing "beacon burning endlessly bright.") Giddy with the freedom of a spring break that I'll spend marking papers, renewing my licence plates, and signing the offer on our new house, I'm finding a certain pleasure in remembering that old ache of boredom, the helpless longing I felt as I slumped on plastic chairs at many a grade-seven lunchtime dance, hoping for life to find me.

34 comments:

Alpha DogMa said...

Oh, you're so right. Twelve is the age where you feel like you're in stasis and most of your time is occupied bemoaning the lack of drama and excitement and luuuurve! I prepared myself for real life by watching soap operas and reading romance novels as if they were anthropological texts.

The soundtrack to my 12th year was the Eurythmics.

painted maypole said...

you've described that 12 year old ache beautifully

Beck said...

Oh, TWELVE. Like Alpha, I loved the Eurthmics.

Jess said...

That is such a satisfactory feeling, to have kicked that ache. I definitely remember feeling it. The picture captures the feeling perfectly.

AnneK said...

You say it so beautifully!

For me the song is Someday by MLTR. Although that is about finding love and I wasn't too much into that then, it always struck a chord. Then it was more about breaking free from the small town where I felt stifled and claustrophobic. I loved singing to that one and I wax nostalgic when I hear the song now.

Constance said...

Oh, hey, I saw them in concert! And I didn't know it was "taking aim at your eyes" until just now. I didn't know WHAT it was--maybe "taking every cherride."

Catherine said...

Ah, 80's music....

Ah, seventh grade...

I agree with Jess. It feels SO GOOD to be past those times.

Blog Antagonist said...

Oh dear God, yes. I always used to say I wouldn't go back to my teen years for all the tea in china, but after a day like today (my boys are SLOBS) I sort of long for the days when the most pressing matter was curling my hair into a perfect little sausage along each side of my face.

cinnamon gurl said...

I signed our revised offer this morning... we'll probably hear around 9 tonight whether we're accepted... so far two other offers have been registered. So not the point of your post, but it's all I can really think about.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

We bought a house, too. I haven't blogged it because my town is too small... Tis the season, I guess.

I never feel nostalgic for age 12. Ick. All I remember from that time is self-loathing. I get nostalgic for age 10, when I felt powerful and free and so full of energy I thought I'd go supernova!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I remember that age all too well, as my daughter is going through it now. I hated it, and she does too. And there's nothing I can do to make it better. Poor girl.

Don Mills Diva said...

I love this post - I remember vividly how much I connected with the character in My American Cousin - such a great movie...

Heather said...

My movie was Dirty Dancing.

gretchen from lifenut said...

That's the song that causes the world to come to a crashing halt so I may sing along with great passion into a hairbrush/remote/my thumb. Oh, Bonnie Tyler.

Age 12 was the worst year of my life. I wouldn't go back for anything.

ewe are here said...

I wouldn't want to do those days over, but the downtime I took for granted would be nice to have back sometimes...

Omaha Mama said...

I created my own twelve-year old drama by having a "boyfriend" that I "loved" and having my very first kiss. It was all Tiffany and New Kids on the Block. That and Firehouse, When I See You Smile. Throw in a few hair band rock ballads and you've got the soundtrack of my tweens. I look back on it now with blissful nostalgia, but at the time, felt truly tortured.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh...yeah. Such a great description.

Except, I guess I wasn't very good at sitting in chairs waiting. I'd often go find something. YIKES

the new girl said...

I have such a vivid memory of having a conversation about that same thing with one of my best friends when we were that age.

Like it was yesterday.

slouching mom said...

Twelve is an awful age, isn't it? You're old enough to understand all the ways in which you're NOT old enough.

Chaotic Joy said...

Sigh. Lovely post Bea. Makes me all gooey and nostalgic.

And then...glad to be here and not there.

Rae said...

Oh man, do I ever think back on those days. The hours of reading! The hours and hours of reading! They are no more.

Jasminé said...

Oh I love 80's music!I love The Breakfast Club..that movie reminds me so much of those days!

Antique Mommy said...

Winter boredom is worse than summer boredom.

Jenifer said...

80's music defines me.

niobe said...

Even at 12, I never wanted anything to happen. But it did anyway.

Sus said...

Yikes, 12. The height of my green eye shadow, bushy hair and braces days. No thanks. I do LOVE the 1983 disc though. I think I'll have to break it out and see if my daughter digs it. For a while she was really into Bob Dylan, so you never know.

planetnomad said...

Oh yes. I watch my own children beginning this stage, and I tremble inside. I hated being 12, and I was so disappointed because I'd thought 12 would be so exciting, such a perfect number!
I luuuved that song too! Haven't heard it in years. Maybe I need to get that CD--although wouldn't it be more appropriate to get the cassette?

Bea said...

PN - Oh yes, the cassette. Mine, as I recall, had a slight squeak to it.

kittenpie said...

My mother always said boredom was for the boring... She wasn't far wrong. Can you imagine how boring it is to sit around being bored? I can't even imagine it anymore.

Bon said...

man, i'm usually a words junkie who recognizes the lyrics but can't remember the tune for the life of me...but this almost stumped me. until i got to the last line and the rhythm came to me and i too was twelve again and roller skating backwards with my girlfriend, hoping the cute boy was watching.

i will now go sing into my hairbrush.

Amy said...

How I love Air Supply. I saw them in concert, as well. That song is best enjoyed when sung at top volume in your car, with all the windows down.

wheelsonthebus said...

If ONLY you had known how boring romance and freedom would be...

Kyla said...

I was born in '83. ;)

Susanne said...

The most interesting thing about that boredom for me right now is that before I had a child I was sure I'd never feel that bored again, ever. And then there it was again. This longing for something to happen, anything.

Oh, and don't forget the feeling you have when you're at family gatherings. And your aunt (or somebody) is talking your ear off. I feel exactly the same way about this as I did 28 years ago.