Down Memory Lane: 10-20-30 Year Meme

Once again, I’m borrowing a meme from Literary Feline, who issued an open invitation for anyone else who wanted to join in. I thought it might be fun.

(And on this “memorable” occasion – Happy Birthday, T! This message is brought to you by T’s sister.)

10 Years Ago (1997): At 33, I felt like my life was actually somewhat together – that would only last for another couple of years, though, and it took getting past 40 to recover some of it.

1997 was a pretty busy year. My (then) husband got tenure, and we bought a house – which is still the only one I’ve ever owned, and may turn out to be the only one I will ever own (damn SoCal real-estate market!). With First Husband’s career apparently settled, I was contemplating a job change, although that didn’t come together until the following March – and it was well worth the wait for the Zoo. The house we bought meant a change in schools for our son, and although 8th grade might seem like a really bad time to uproot, he liked the new school much better, and got to know the group of friends that he’d hang with through high school. Getting a house, and a yard, meant we could enlarge our family, and we added puppy Shadow, an energetic retriever mix (soon to be 11, and still living with First Husband). The house also had a couple more bedrooms than we needed, so we could have both a dedicated guest room and an office/reading room! Guess where my favorite place was?

That was The Year Everyone We Knew Got Married – we traveled for three weddings, and sent gifts for a couple more. I ended up with a lot to write about in that year’s Christmas-card-enclosure letter. Things seemed to be getting settled, and I wasn’t sure what would come next – or if anything would. I was starting to get a little anxious. A couple of years later, things started unsettling with a vengeance.

Notable events of the year
include the start of President Bill Clinton’s second term (January), the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult (March), the handover of Hong Kong to China by the U.K. (July), and the death of Princess Diana in a car accident in Paris (August). The world first met Harry Potter on June 30. A couple of songs I liked that year were “Everlong” by Foo Fighters, “The Impression That I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – and it was also the year of the Spice Girls. And the Titanic may have sunk in 1912, but the movie was huge in ’97.

20 Years Ago (1987): Newly-minted college graduate, as was my husband! I remember this year as having a sense of excitement and promise.

We moved across the country, from Florida to the Finger Lakes region of New York, for First Husband to begin graduate school in chemistry. Since I had majored in business, I was ready to start my career, and even though a small college town didn’t offer a big range of opportunities, I was set against taking just any student-spouse office-clerk job. As it happened, I lucked into a temp job in the university accounting office in August, and was hired full-time in November. The work wasn’t quite what I’d expected or prepared for, but it was valuable first-job experience all the same (even though it took some years’ distance for me to appreciate that properly). My life as a working mom began then, too; and with a three-year-old child, the timing for preschool was just right.

My sister graduated from college the same year and went to work in New York City, four hours away, so although we were far from our extended families, at least we weren’t too far from each other.

Notable events of the year included sex scandals that took down two televangelists and one Presidential candidate, the “Black Monday” stock-market free-fall and “Baby Jessica’s” fall down a well (both in October), and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (June). Musically, it was the year of The Joshua Tree (U2), Sign O’ The Times (Prince), Dirty Dancing, and the debuts of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Debbie Gibson, and Tiffany, among others. My couldn’t-put-it-down book that year was The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. And my very favorite movie, The Princess Bride, premiered in theaters.

30 Years Ago (1977): Oy, thirteen. A challenging age for most of us – my stepdaughter just arrived there, and we commiserate over the miseries of middle school.

My family had just moved from Connecticut to Florida, and was basically starting over from scratch. My parents had taken losses on a business and a house. Dad was going to try to start up an accounting practice on his own, and Mom wasn’t going to be working anymore. We were living in a small, rented two-bedroom house, and my sister and I had just entered Catholic school for the first time (despite the extremely tight family budget, my Northeastern parents didn’t think much of Southern public schools). That was a lot of transition to deal with, on top of becoming a teenager.

Thank goodness for books. We made weekly trips to the library, and I read all the YA fiction I could get my hands on; and I was learning to love bookstores, too. My favorite writer in those years was Madeleine L’Engle, and I also liked S.E. Hinton and M.E. Kerr; I think I read The Thorn Birds that year, too. I also devoured the teen magazines; one of the things I enjoy about getting together with women my age now is occasional reminiscing about our Tiger Beat favorites (Shaun Cassidy! Andy Gibb! Leif Garrett! Robby Benson!).

Notable events of the year can be found via the Wikipedia link – being thirteen at the time, I didn’t really notice current events all that much. There were a few pop-culture landmarks that year, though, notably the releases of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album and a science-fiction fantasy movie called Star Wars (aka “Episode IV”). Seeing that in theaters during its original run – it ran for months, and stayed over a year in some theaters (that was before many people even had cable TV, let alone VCRs) – was a rite of passage for some of us; ignoring it was a badge of honor for others.

If you’d enjoy doing some reminiscing of your own, please play along! No tags, but leave me a comment so I’ll know to look for your post.

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  1. I know what you mean about not thinking you’ll ever own another house here in SoCal. Prices are just awful, aren’t they?

    I love how you added your notable events to each year! Boy, did those bring back memories!

  2. I enjoyed adding the context of what was going on in the world at large at the time, and this meme was a lot of fun to do. Thanks, Literary Feline! But now you youngsters know how old I am – not that I’ve really been secretive about that anyway :-).