Saturday, May 19, 2007

Memories of Regan

This morning I got an email from my good friend Karen. Karen and I grew up together in NY and were best friends for the longest time. I saw her a year and a half ago when she came to my wedding, and I was so happy to hear (and see) that she gave birth to a beautiful daughter named Lily last month. I always love getting email from her and seeing the photos that she sends, but this email--albeit short and photo-free--sparked some memories that I'd almost forgot about.

The year was 1986 and Karen and I were 11 years old. We were in 6th grade and also members of the National Safety Patrol. This might sound like we were over-achievers, but honestly, the whole 6th grade class were also members. It was just something you did when you were in 6th grade. I can't explain it.

Part of our membership included a 4 night, 5 day trip to Washington DC. Our class worked hard selling candy, magazines, plants, and having bake sales in order to save up enough money to pay for it. What we weren't able to earn, our parents had to kick in. I remember it being an enormously big deal that my Mom had to fork over something like $100 to pay for the trip. I guess that was a lot of cash back then. I remember she made me feel enormously guilty for the months leading up to the trip and then months after I'd returned. I don't think she did that to my siblings at all. Or if she did, her Guilt Stronghold had no effect on them, like it did me. I've got issues with guilt, but that's for another time.

Anyway, I don't remember much of the actual trip. You'd think I'd remember seeing the White House and the Lincoln Memorial and all the other touristy crap that comes with our nation's capitol. But I don't. What I do remember is the busride to and from Washington, as well as the nights in the motel with my friends. Kind of silly, isn't it?

The busride was long and uncomfortable. I remember we stopped at a Hardees either on the way there or the way back (I think it was the way back) and the boy I was "dating" (C'mon. Can you really date anyone when you're eleven years old?) told me he didn't like me any more but instead, liked this other girl from another school who was also on our bus. She was a skinny thing and had some boobage going on (I didn't). I think I was upset, but I don't remember. He told me in the Hardees and I find it funny that I went the rest of my life not seeing another Hardees until I moved to Minnesota last year.

I also remember that every night was like a giant slumber party in our motel rooms. We'd take silly pictures with our LeClik cameras (that would never turn out the way we wanted) and do each other's hair. We'd run back and forth between rooms, jump on the beds, and stay up until we were forced to be quiet by the chaperones. We ate nothing but junkfood and soda and prank called the boys' rooms daring them to come over. They never did, those pansies.

One of the things that totally sticks out for me is seeing the video Land of Confusion by genesis for the first time. We also saw Sledgehammer for the first time, too. Karen mentioned that she remembers that the most from our trip. I remember the Land of Confusion video because it gave me nightmares for MONTHS. If you don't recall the video, here it is for your enjoyment:

Goddamn, those puppets are SCARY! You have to remember, I grew up in a place where no one had cable except the wealthy folks who lived in the town where my school was. I lived 20 miles away and was only able to watch ABC, CBS, and NBC, if I was lucky. So not only had I never seen this video, I had never even heard the song. Yes, that's how sheltered I was. The only radio stations that reached my home were the classic rock station and the easy listening station. So at 11, I didn't know who genesis or Peter Gabriel were. Sad, isn't it?

I wish I could remember more about that trip, but the scary video stands out the most. And after seeing that video, I wish I could remember more of the Regan administration. The only things I remember is hearing something about Ollie North and Iran-Contra through my friend's older brother. And that older brother had an anti-Regan shirt that I thought was funny at the time, but I don't remember what the joke was. Oh, I also remember that I didn't have any asthma attacks those 5 days, either. I normally couldn't go a week without having at least three. At that time, "inhailer" wasn't in my vocabulary. I took these pills twice a day to try and prevent the asthma attacks. I'm pretty sure those pills messed me up and did harm to my brain, but that's for another time. I was just happy I wasn't wheezing and coughing. Because you know, that would be, like, totally embarrassing! And at eleven years old, the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself.

Good times.

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