Memoir Relationships Technology

Back in 1985

Me & my BFF's circa 1985. I'm the one in blue with the green lei.

In my last post, I wrote about my nephew Alec’s recent high school graduation.

As I sat waiting inside the local college field house, miles away from the actual school my nephew attended, I couldn’t help but think about my own graduation in 1985.

First, I have to admit that I have absolutely no recollection of who spoke at my high school graduation. (My sincere apologies, Mr. or Ms. Graduation Speaker. I am sure you were very good.)

I do remember sitting in my white cap and gown. (The boys wore red.)

I remember looking at my fabulous white high-heeled pumps and thinking about my tan. My tan was very important to me, as tans were to many of us back in the mid-1980s. We were not a very serious bunch. I mean, we were serious but in an 1980s kind of way. Which was not very serious. Yeah, we were going to college – but we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. At all. Maybe that was just me. But seriously, I don’t think so.

Where my nephew’s graduating class was focused, we were distinctly goofy. Of course some of us were more self-propelled than others, but as a class, we were more about fun. I may be making this up but I kind of remember someone pretending to trip and possibly even staging a fall as he walked to get his diploma. I wore a green lei around my neck during the graduation ceremony. On two separate occasions, the vice principal told me to remove it (and I did), but I slipped it back on before I walked across the stage for hand-shaking and hugs.

In 1985, I was more interested in the social interactions that high school had to offer than its academic challenges. I joined the “fun” clubs. I was a cheerleader. I danced and rode horses. I also got a lot of detentions; I even managed to earn myself a 3-day in-school suspension. Hell, I wore blue to graduation when we were clearly instructed to wear white or light colors. As a group, we did a lot of pushing the proverbial envelope.

In contrast, my nephew and his peers seemed pretty serious.

Maybe they have to be.

Given the current economic prognosis, they can’t afford to mess around the way we did in the decadent 80s.

I mean, it’s good to be thinking of more than just developing “a great base tan.”

The night of Alec’s graduation, as we celebrated his accomplishments with pizza and watermelon, I was surprised by how content Alec was to just hang out with his family. He played his ukulele, chatted with his grandparents, sat outside on a chunky patio chair with the men, their voices blending together in a low hum.

He seemed unfazed that he was leaving for camp the next day. He said he wasn’t too worried because he knew he would be able to keep in touch with his closest friends.

Immediately after my high school graduation, my clan of Best Friends Forever (The “BFF’s”) gathered in a parking lot to sip champagne from plastic glasses, and I remember feeling a tremendous sense of relief and freedom.

Along with a side order of sadness.

Because I really didn’t think I was going to see any of my them ever again.

Let’s forget for a moment that the 1980s featured a lot of apocalyptic songs which suggested that we were all going to die in a nuclear war. (Think of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U” or Rush’s “Distant Early Warning”; Genesis’ “Domino” of  Modern English’s romantic ballad “I’ll Stop The World and Melt with You.” Oh and Nena, the chick who brought us “99 Red Balloons.”)

Seriously. I didn’t think we were going to make it to our 10 year reunion.

But on a less morbid level, there were no cellphones back in 1985. No Facebook or Twitter. No texting.

I remember smiling big but feeling internally frantic. I could feel change on my skin as sure as I had felt the sun baking my shoulders for all those weeks leading up to graduation. Just like my nephew, I packed my duffel bag and trunk and headed off to (same) summer camp where I planned to work for 8 weeks as a counselor. Unlike my nephew, I felt loss in my bones.

I imagined myself standing in line waiting to use a dormitory payphone. But I knew I would never have enough quarters to call my friends as much as I would like. I also knew that even if I called, the odds were, they would not be around.

I knew I would have to find new people, and that I would have to work to make new friends. But I also accepted this as the natural order of things: growing up meant breaking bonds to form new ones.

After speaking with several graduates of the class of 2011, I realized that they are less sad than we were. With the advent of social media, friends need never disconnect from one another. Unless a person wants to become invisible, it is absolutely possible to remain in touch with one’s friends from high school. On a daily basis.

It remains to be seen if all this connection will be a blessing or a curse. I wonder if today’s students will remain perpetual teenagers, clinging to their childhood friendships, finding it difficult to move on and forge fresh bonds with new people, or if they will plunge into adulthood, embracing new opportunities while maintaining constant contact with old friends from back in the day.

As I watched graduates from the class of 2011 pose for photographs, then stop to text someone, thumbs a-blazing, I thought about what graduation really meant for me.

I was able to go to college and start fresh.

I made a conscious choice to stop being “the flirty girl” and reinvent myself as “the studious girl.” Would such a transformation have been possible if I had people from high school constantly reminding me of my flakiness? About how dumb I was in math? About the time I spilled the bong water? Or the time I started cheering “Block That Kick” when our team had possession of the football?

Is it possible to move forward and evolve when people are urging you to look back and stay the same?

What do you remember about your high school graduation? How do you think social media will impact future generations?

58 thoughts on “Back in 1985

  1. High School Graduation is rather poignant to look back on. Symbolic of our jumping off point to the rest of our lives. Lives we slowly took sole control and responsibility for in the years to come.

    I think your nephew is an interesting example of today’s students. Kids are raised to be a certain way by their parents they can choose to live it or rebel. They all have opportunities to shine. There are also opportunities to ruin lives, their own and others. Some will make mistakes yet find the strength to rise from the ashes moving on to amazing lives beyond any of our imagination. I’ve seen examples of this from several graduating classes. 1985 being one of them. Those of my own children, starting in 1999 and yes, that was a scary year, they liked that theme song quite a bit.

    Social media is wonderful and awful. I love connecting with old friends so I can read their blogs and comment on them. I hate that some folks use it for nefarious purposes. Social media will impact this and future generations in that ideas and information that matters can be shared and spread quickly. It will also enable lies, hurtful thoughts and other negativity to spread quickly. Users will need to find balance and think before they post.

    1. Hi isrb:

      I’ll agree with you on the wonderful/awfulness of social media.

      Email has helped me to stay in touch with many of the people in this picture, so I can’t hate it too much. It helps to deliver my blog and texting helps me keep me in touch with the folks who don’t like Facebook or phones!

      But I don’t like when people are so connected to their devices that they can’t have an uninterrupted conversation. And we all know social media can be a real time suck.

  2. I promise I’m not trying to be spammy or annoying by adding a link, but you asked about graduation and I’m not going to get into it again 😉

    “Is it possible to move forward and evolve when people are urging you to look back and stay the same?”
    That’s a great question, and I suppose it’s all a matter of personal perspective and priority. Some people like to live in the past because they’re afraid of an uncertain future. Some people can’t wait to move on because they’re ready for a change. For me, I am grateful for social media because it has kept me connected to those whose relationship I value, but has also allowed me to separate from those that do urge me to “stay the same” and live in the past. I have the choice, and I’m glad I can move forward with some of the same people from my past that helped make me what I am. Great question!

    1. Just read your post and tweeted it. 1) Why don’t you have twitter? 2) The paramedic was pretty hot, 3) I hope you had clean panties on. Just in case there happened to be a rogue perv hanging around. 😉

      This is why you are on my wall. Funny! 😉

      1. Aww! I’m honored you Tweeted!
        I don’t Tweet because I don’t need anything else to divert my attention away from the shiny objects that usually divert my attention every five seconds. I realize it would probably be beneficial to “the blog,” but I would rather spend that time writing or being outside instead of Tweeting about what I already wrote. That might not make sense, but for now, I’m sticking to it!

        2) I ALWAYS have clean panties on, and of course there were rogue pervs–it was high school. They all were 😉

  3. Yesterday, my son left Kindergarten for the last time. I spent most of last night feeling both giddy and nostalgic – kind of like you’ve described here. And you raise some excellent points: there was a time when leaving high school meant leaving behind childhood, a piece of your own history, people you love. But you’re right that with the advent of social media, none of that is necessary.

    It makes me wonder how else the generations differ and if the seriousness that you saw on the face of your nephew and his classmates in representative of an entire facet of society. Instead of allowing our children to push the boundaries and goof off and get suspended for three days and wear the wrong colour to grad, have we stifled them? We drive them to school, organize “playdates” instead of letting them play, and get in trouble and have FUN!

    Just wondering. Great post!

    1. My nephew’s cohort group is very academically intense. I believe collectively they won over $10K worth of awards. This is not counting scholarships.

      This is not to suggest they are not joyous, well-rounded people. They are. But they are also very dependent on their parents. Much more so than we were when we were their age.

      My parents rarely had any idea where I was at any given time. Again, there were no cell phones or texting. I am pretty sure my friends would agree that we got away with a lot more than our kids do.

  4. I was the class of 1980, and I was one of the “studious” girls, so my experience was very different from yours (although I don’t remember who spoke at our graduation, either!). In fact, when you were graduating high school, I was finishing my first year of grad school. Love that song compilation clip you provided – really takes me back!

    I’ve heard the argument before about this generation being so connected to their devices that they could be more prone to looking backward, and being “perpetual teenagers,” but I don’t buy it. My oldest son just graduated HS and is looking forward to starting college in a few weeks. He’ll be able to keep in touch with friends he has now, but they are in the virtual world. There are still classes to go to, people to room with, meals to be shared. You’d have to be really determined to be a hermit in order to avoid making new friends. But there’s plenty of room for friends, old and new. The people who want hang on to the past have always been around, even before social network tools; maybe it’s easier for them these days to actually do so, but that’s not going to change the predisposition of those teens who are ready to move forward, and will.

    Thanks for your post, Renee!

    1. Hi K.B.:

      It isn’t just the friends the kids to whom the kids stay connected. They stay connected to mom and dad, too. When I graduated, I knew I would never live at home again. Ever. I spoke to my parents infrequently. Less frequently as the years went by.

      I know parents of college students who wish their kids were a little less connected, a little more independent; it’s so easy to text mom a question than figure things out by oneself.

      Keep me posted on how much you are texting when your son heads off to college! (Congrats, by the way, to your son and to you, proud momma!) 😉

  5. I know our valedictorian spoke. I think someone else did as well. Either way I wasn’t really paying attention (big surprise, huh?). I was done with school about half way through my senior year. I took 4 classes my senior year (one was gym, another band). I decided to take things easy and just blow school off. I had early dismissal every day, and was routinely seen roaming the halls just for giggles. I knew what school I was going to, I had 4 back up schools in case things didn’t work out (they didn’t). I had gotten into every school I had applied for. Who cares about graduation?

    I was leaving for camp the next day to spend my summer driving $30-40,000 ski boats and to ferry girls from shore to the island in the middle of the lake. I was going to have an opportunity NOT ONE of my classmates would have. So I didn’t pay attention at graduation. I barely remember my name being called and me accepting my diploma. I remember the after party where we were bussed to Assumption College to utilize their gyms, weight rooms, etc for Project Graduation. I remember sleeping in the corner of the weight room because I was leaving at like 8 the next morning and had a 5 hour drive ahead of me.

    I think with social media, kids these days don’t have a choice but to stay in touch. They get obsessed with who posted on their wall or who tweeted this or that. I think it’s important to occasionally step away from the world around us. To find a place where it doesn’t matter who is on facebook or what parties are going on. I usually take a couple of days / weeks each year and step away from facebook, web forums, etc. It’s very refreshing. That is my advice for kids these days. Take a break. Who cares if you miss Jimmy’s party, or Franks post on your wall? There will be other parties. There will be other posts.

    1. “I think it’s important to occasionally step away from the world around us.”

      It is easy for us to say “put down the Blackberry” or “step away from the iPhone” because we knew life before social media. We learned cursive and we learned how to read analog clocks. Students today do not even use watches as they depend on their phones to give them the time. I think they are much more dependent on these devices than we think.

      Truly, it is a new addiction.

      1. You’re probably right, however I’ll be damned if my kids are going to be glued to their phones / facebook / whatever like many kids are these days. I’m such a curmudgeon. I kicked my kids out of the house when it was about to rain because they’d been cooped up for too long. Kids need fresh air. They need to go outside and see the world around them. They need to experience actual friends, not just virtual friends.

    1. Hi Jess:

      I was. I was a little bit naughty, but we all were. Kinda. Some of us were just more discreet than others. I suppose the same is true today.

      Glad you are digging my June memories.

      I’m moving into summer mode now. 😉

  6. Your words were poignant. Each generation is the product of the previous generation’s mistakes. Ours was the first generation for whom a college degree might mean working at McDonald’s just as easily as being a CEO. (JMHO and experience) Ahh, the disillusionment.

    The current generation is being taught to focus their efforts for success, and, as a result, they are very different than we were. Also, because of the endless information at their fingertips, they’re more sophisticated. I remember actually going to the library to research stuff. LOL

    I’m a little younger than you, but these songs were my anthem growing up. They made me wonder what all the kids I went to HS with are doing now. I haven’t spoken to any of them for 20 years…and don’t want to. 😉

    1. Hi Catie:

      They ARE more sophisticated. Is that what it is? They really do seem more ready for the world. Definitely less terrified.

      Glad you liked the tunes. I helped contact people for our 20th high school reunion with many of the women featured in this picture. Finding people was fun.

      I wonder if reunions will die because of Facebook. I mean, everyone will know what everyone looks like: who got fat, who lost his teeth, who got knocked up, who became a rock star.

  7. I have read your past two posts with great interest since my oldest daughter also graduated from high school this year. Like your nephew’s, my daughter’s graduation is remarkably different from mine. As studious as I was, my daughter’s work ethic blows the doors off mine. To be fair, she is in a very different economic situation than I was – mostly because she is not the child of a single parent. Also, she will attend college as a student-athlete (Univ. of Chicago, no less). It is this drive that she, her friends, your nephew, and most likely his friends, possess that amazes me about this generation. Yes, they all have e-mail, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, along with cell phones and unlimited texting. But, amazingly, they all complain about the same stuff we did when we were that age: some kids party too much, some are too serious, and, yes, some refuse to grow up and move on from high school. Also, my daughter attended a school district with 25% poverty. So, Social Media has inundated our world in such a manner that it is not limited to just the very privileged. What I find most fascinating about this generation (aside from their work ethic), is how important community service is to these kids. Volunteering, donating, and general “giving back” to their communities has become a way of life for most of my daughter’s friends, and I am amazed at their level of dedication to such projects. Heck, a lot of 20-somethings have made community service a very successful career. And the world is a better place for it. I believe it is our economic situation that is forcing these kids to be more creative with their career choices, but I also believe the Internet and Social Media have made these career paths possible. So, will today’s graduates go on to become doctors, accountants, CEO’s and other traditional highly respected professionals? Absolutely. It just may be that the doctors all spend time in third world countries instead of working exclusively from their offices or hospitals. The accountants will probably help consult Non-Profits on how to better manage their assets, and the CEO’s will develop companies that provide different products to underprivileged persons – or, better yet, jobs! – a’la Tom’s Shoes. All while making a decent living for themselves, as well.
    Yes, this is my dream for the Class of 2011, and I truly believe we will see many more great things from our children in the years to come – perhaps this is the contribution we silly children of the ’80’s are finally making to Society and the world in general.

    1. Dawn:

      “What I find most fascinating about this generation (aside from their work ethic), is how important community service is to these kids.”

      You are right. Many of these students are not only academically excellent but they are excellent ambassadors to the world. They really do want to make the world a better place.

      Like you, I am hopeful that we will see great things from the children of this and future generations. Despite floods and tornadoes and recession, they remain resilient and optimistic. Also excellent character traits.

  8. Renee, I’m impressed on how well you know yourself and the time you live in. I’m also impressed on the drive you have..I enjoy your writing and i think it won’t be long that you’ll be sending me an autographed copy of one of your books. And I have a feeling you have more than one book emerging. Now after correcting all my mistakes let that book to be evolve.

  9. well in the UK we don’t “graduate” high school. We just leave. Nowadays they have ridiculously expensive proms with big frocks and limos but back in 1986 when I left school there was nothing. No proms, no parties, no fuss – so there wasn’t a great deal of contemplation when we left school.

    I went to a grammar school (single sex and selective) so the only real conversations at the end of our final year were about exam results, which college courses we were going to take and where.

    I didn’t have a large group of friends at school (I don’t think anyone did really). I hung around with a girl called Diana. When we left school we had no more contact. Socially it was much like going to work. You went to school, there were some people you connected with better than others, and they were “friends” of a kind – associates perhaps. You did your school work, you went home. Friendships rarely happened outside of school.

    Nobody worried about moving on. It’s just what happened. (I just spoke to a friend, one of the mums at the school, and she said it was the same for her. She left school, it wasn’t a big thing).

    As for keeping in touch – we didn’t. We didn’t even take each others phone numbers or addresses so there can’t have been any intention to stay in touch. In recent months I have been contacted by a few people I went to primary school with but I can’t say I have much in common with them. One of them is actually quite annoying. To be fair I didn’t have much in common with them in 1982 when we were last in the same school together.

    I suspect that young people leaving school now will learn to become a little less polite thanks to social media. They will either have to learn not to add old school friends on facebook and such like or they will adapt. I categorise my friends: close friends, real life friends, aquaintances, colleagues, and online friends. Maybe the young uns will just be better at it than us.

    1. “I categorise my friends: close friends, real life friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and online friends. Maybe the young’uns will just be better at it than us.”

      Hi Penny!

      I think you are right: they are already better at this than we are. I know my Monkey is much more cautious about who he lets into his inner sanctum than I am. (That sounds naughty.)

  10. Renee, I wish that we were closer in high school. You were the “Class Flirt” while I was just a shy pimply-faced boy who I’m sure you didn’t even know was in your grade. I’m sure we would have had a lot of fun and made a lot of people laugh. Whenever I ask people if they would want to go back to high school they would always respond with the quick “no way!!” or “not on your life.” They didn’t graduate from J-D in ’85. We did have a pretty good class and had a lot of fun. Maybe being so many years removed I’m inclined to remember only the good times.

    One memory that I recall was Mrs Reed telling me that I wouldn’t pass her class if I failed the final test. Well, I got a 64 on the test but yet passed the class with a 65…if you want to see me do something, then tell me it can’t be done (ok, that parts a lie)! Not sure where I was going with all this writing but…well, no “but”, I have no idea where I was going.

    Today’s children have to be grown-ups when they graduate high school where we had the luxury of waiting another 4-6 years. “The times make the man” is very appropriate for this day in age. The times are changing faster than ever, making it imperative that we have leaders that are current. Our leaders are going to have to become younger and younger to keep pace with the new technologies and such. I feel sorry for the younger generations that have to become adults so quickly. We were probably one of the last generations that got to enjoy childhood well into their 20’s. I apologize to all the youngsters that my generation has forced into early adulthood.

    I would like autographed copies of your future books too.

    1. Jeff, I failed the Trig Regents. I got a 64 on it and learned this after graduation. My father made me study and study to retake it. I passed the second time with a 65. Skin-o-my-toofers.

      I didn’t know how to study until I went to college.

      You make a good point: today’s kids do have to grow up faster. We were a bit lazier, slower. I am trying to keep Monkey’s like simplified, but somehow it always feels like we are rushing.

      Even if we didn’t know each other well, I’m glad I get to know you now.

      By the way, when are you starting that blog? 😉

  11. I graduated in 1975, so my memories are a bit more faded than others’ might be. I was class Valedictorian and speaker, and I don’t even remember what I said. I know I was forced to memorize the speech–no cue cards or cheat-sheets. That’s what I remember about my speech.

    I was a girl who trusted in a future I didn’t plan. I didn’t think much about what was ahead of me; something inside of me “knew” everything would work out. Yes, I did all the right things to prepare–applied for scholarships and college, went to orientation, found out where my classes were, etc. so I would be as successful in college as I was in high school–but I wasn’t concerned with political turmoil or cultural shifts. I was just Lorna, living day to day and trying to please everyone around me. That took up most of my time and attention.

    Thanks for your post and for the skip down memory lane…

    1. Wow! A class valedictorian, right here on my blog. The mid-70s seem like such a different time. Everything was so cool and relaxed. I remember going to summer camp in 1978 and playing “mellow games.” There were no sports camps. We just chilled out.

      I think growing up post-Vietnam, hearing about Watergate and worrying that “The Russians” might nuke us at any time, paired with a new disease called AIDS well… we graduates of 1985 kind of started to doubt that everything would work out fine. We just wanted to “party like it was 1999.”

  12. 1967 was a fearful year for us 1,120 seniors at North Miami Senior high. We knew some were going to SE Asia never to return. Never went to the senior or junior prom. I was at the dog track drinkin and gambling under age. Woulds sure asked you out there. But I was 36 in 1985.

    1. Hi Carl:

      I can hardly imagine what it would have been like to have been a high school graduate in 1967.

      No prom, eh? That’s kind of sucky. Next time I’m down your way, maybe we can go salsa.

      Or just imagine us cyber dancing. 😉

  13. Renee, as one of your BFF’s, I have already commented to you on that flashback picture of us and shared some memories with you about graduation. We had some great times that I will cherish forever! What struck me the most in this post was listening to those songs! Wow, they brought back so many memories! As I listened to the songs, I listed some titles so I could buy them from itunes. Then I read over the titles and thought about the words in those titles. They have great meaning to us BFF’s at that time in our life and now… “I Want to Know What Love Is”…Wow, we really wanted to know. Now, we all have found out. It’s a beautiful thing! “The Power of Love”…. we did not know or realize its power at 18. We have all felt the power of love with our children, spouses, parents, siblings, and friends. “Don’t You Forget about Me”… We weren’t sure at the end of the summer in 1985 where our lives would go or would we ever see each other again. We all still stay in touch and will never forget each other. “We are the World”… In 1985, we thought this was a cool song with lots of stars raising money for a good cause. Look at us today, we have all gone into education and try to teach tolerance and acceptance everyday. I believe… we are the world. We are molding young minds. We are striving for a brighter future. “One More Night”… our senior ball theme song… All we wanted back then was one more night together and now we realize who doesn’t want more night of anything we love and we will have many more nights together! “Like A Virgin”…. well… I won’t go there!!! xo

    1. Chud!

      I am so glad you looked at and listened to the songs! It is amazing how it is the soundtrack of our lives. And everything you said is spot on. I love how we have all landed in education. I kept trying to figure out how to get that in this post, but it felt forced. And here you found a way to do it for me. 😉

      And I love how we are all still in touch. Maybe not every day. But we do know how to find each other. Some of us prefer text, some prefer phones, some email. We have our ways to pick up where we left off.

      I hope my nephew has that with his friends, too.

  14. Yes. To all of it.

    In 1985, I just wanted to be in the Breakfast Club.

    (and tan, of course.)

    Today’s graduates have a completely different future ahead of them than I perceived for myself. Some aspects will be better, some worse.

    Like every generation I suppose.

    Does love still lift us up where we belong? Ha!

    I hope so. I hope it always will…
    (but I’m a cockeyed optimist. and flirty. so.)

  15. Oh dear – go back ten years. Ever watch “That Seventies Show”? I went to school with all those kids. Really and truly. With the minor twist that our high school served a partially rural community, and us farm kids used to drive the town kids nuts. They couldn’t understand half of what we said, and the toughest among them couldn’t touch the weakest of us (we spent our weekends working on the farm – they spend their weekends doing nothing – who was in better shape).

    Our high school celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last fall. It was kind of funny in a way, because those of us from the seventies were among the older ones there, the only ones older were the kids from the sixties. In some cases there were three generations of kids from one family that went to that school, and it’s still going strong.


    1. Wayne:

      You know I already have a thing for the bad boys. Now I find out you were one of ’em. And you were a 70s kid. Sigh. Why you gotta slay me? 😉
      My high school is still going strong and a lot of my old friends still work in the district!

  16. Our speaker was also tuba player in the high school band who was performing that day as part of his band duties. He brought his tuba up on stage as “visual aid” to his speech. His speech focused on the role of the tuba in supporting the other more “prominent” instruments in the orchestra. Although the sounds and notes played by the tuba don’t stand out and aren’t as attention grabbing as say the saxophone, trumpet, flutes, or violins, the low and constant growl of the tuba provides the musical foundation that allows the other instruments to really shine. We might not notice the tuba being played during a musical piece, but we would surely notice if it were suddenly not there.

    The parallel to our lives was that we should not necessarily always strive to be the standout rock-star in whatever we do, but that we can still achieve success and achieve a quiet dignity in other people’s lives by being consistent, stable, and a foundation for others. It was a really good speech.

    1. Brian:

      I cannot freakin’ believe you remember that. How is it that I cannot remember a person hauling a tuba onto the stage. Come on. Do you think I got dragged of stage for wearing a lei? Maybe I was obsessing that it was so dang nice outside, and I was missing quality tanning time. I. Was. So. Shallow. I love that you remember our high school graduation speech. Thank you. Believe it or not, that is a great gift: to get to hear about it — 25+ years later.

  17. You raise an excellent question, Renee. I think it would be much harder, if not impossible, to reinvent ourselves if we couldn’t thrown down the match and walk away from out past. And especially now, when kids do their stupid kid things on the draconian, unforgiving, unforgetting social media. I am grateful every day that the Internet was not available when I was under 30. What a terrible reality where our mistakes last forever. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Piper: I mean it’s one thing for us to confess them here ourselves but to have our teenage stupidity stick to us like glue. Forever. No thank you please. I was a ditz. But then I remember I was also among the youngest in my grade, a late-November baby and the cut-off date to be in the next grade was December 1st. I was always playing catch up. Thanks for your kind words. 😉

  18. Like you, I was glad move on from high school and welcomed the opportunity to re-invent myself. Ironically, in contrast to yourself, my mission was to turn myself INTO ‘the flirty girl’ and was quite successful in accomplishing my goal.

    As for how today’s tech will impact how kid’s friendships evolve, I think it will help maintain those relationships that are truly meant to be evergreen, but will not hold up those that are meant to fade like acid washed jeans. 😉

    btw, you forgot another quintessential, morbid 80’s song – “Forever Young” by Alphaville.

    Great post – love your writing style.

  19. In 1985, I was graduating from junior high school. Our district didn’t have a high school at that time, so we had a grade 7-9 junior high, then joined the high school in the larger neighboring district in 10th grade. I asked my prom date to the prom. That sounds more brazen than it was – he was a friend who went to another school. Then I developed a crush on him and on my 15th birthday, he gave me my first kiss. At the prom, he refused to dance and acted like a dick so I made him jealous by dancing with someone else while he was in the bathroom. He didn’t leave my side for the rest of the night, but then took off after the prom and things fizzled very soon after.

    Man, I was starting all that when I was fifteen??

    I think that ultimately, social media won’t change the fact that you’ll keep in touch with people you want to remain friends with, and ignore people you don’t care about. They might be connected for the moment on Facebook and through texting, but when I went to college, my friends and I sent flurries of letters to each other. Eventually they tapered off except for those of us who were not only the closest to each other, but who also developed into adults who still liked each other.

    It might make it easier to keep track of little details of people’s lives, but I don’t think…or at least I hope…people will confuse that with real friendship. I think there will be flurries of texts and Facebook messages at the beginning that will eventually taper off as they develop separate lives. It’s new media, but humans are still humans. The tools change but the forces that drive their use are more constant.

    As for high school graduation in 1989, I remember that my best friend was salutatorian. I wore a red dress and white sandals. I won three awards – including a small writing scholarship – and I didn’t even know I was going to win anything. My whole family celebrated and it felt awesome. I spent the summer working and getting ready to move 1200 miles away to college, and I felt excited beyond belief. My life was about to start!

    1. I think many people have blurred distinctions between real friends, old friends, cyber-friends. I know some bloggers pretty well. Online. I have some people with whom I went to elementary school but haven’t spoken with in two decades. Am I “friends” with the people in either of these categories of folks? I would shake my head and say, “No,” But I know people who THINK they are friends with everyone.

      I just had an argument about it with someone the other day who insisted that she was, in fact, friends with the daughter of a cousin who lives abroad. The conversation was ludicrous to me, but the person clearly needed to feel this connection, artificial as it may feel for either you or me.

      Like you, I am hopeful that this generation of students might be even better at managing all this information than we are. For us, it is new. To them, it is no big deal. No big deal gets boring. Quickly. 😉

  20. Oops…1985 was the year I started 9th grade, but I forgot that graduation was actually in 1986. Duh. Math wasn’t my best subject 😉 So I still would have been in school with you Renee – a freshman to your senior. No wonder I think you’re so cool! Seniors are always cool 🙂

  21. Love your photo!
    I had way too strange a childhood and teens to be able to comment properly on this, and I’m also from the UK, so – nope, no graduation from high school for me, and no prom to experience. As for kids now and how they will be once the graduate (all assuming they do), with all the social media and stuff that’s currently around…. I think they’ll still hit the usual adulthood problems, as age itself takes us there eventually, with a partner, kids for those who have them, work, responsibilities. They’ve got used to staying in touch in a much easier way via social networking, but if that were suddenly not there – would they know how to relate to people without it? That’s what I wonder.

    1. They’ve got used to staying in touch in a much easier way via social networking, but — if that were suddenly not there — would they know how to relate to people without it?

      It’s a great question. Studies already show that people are not relating as well in terms of interpersonal relations. There is a new book out called Together Alone. I really want to get my hands on it. I saw one line that piqued my interest. It said that 75% of people would rather apologize via text than in person because it is just so much easier to [apologize] in text. That has me worried a bit.

      1. What strikes me more and more these days, though, Renee, is – when our generation (ie, the ‘parents’, even though I’m not one myself) is dead, and the current children’s ways are the norm… will it even matter? I think about how our parents and grandparents felt about our ways when we were young ourselves and I hear the same sort of complaints. How much of what’s happening is technology and how much that it’s not our generation, I wonder?

      2. Hey Val:

        My in-laws just saw the new Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris where the main character gets to time travel and learns that we all pine for the simpler days of our youth and worry (sometimes obsessively) about the future, but really everyone turns out just fine.

        Like you, I’m pretty sure the future generation will be just as fine and just as flawed as we ever were. 😉

  22. Oh…the 80s! I look back and think about how much fun I had in school, even though I was considered “studious”. I often feel such sadness when I look at my students. They have such pressure to perform, especially when the teachers are pressured to make sure that they score higher and higher with each year. I have shared stories with my students of just playing outside and building forts. They have no concept of being that free…not being tied to technology and using their imagination. I also carried my Atari to school one day. That was entertaining! Try explaining why there is not a remote to the 1985 13in tv! And believe it or not, there are still some of my classmates (small class..only 60 or so) that I have not seen since graduation (1989). Enjoyed your post….brought back memories!

  23. Lovely pic. Your course in “developing a base tan” sounds like something out of Doonesbury.

    Interesting difference you highlighted between then and now. Keeping in touch is so much easier these days – social media etc. In the past, as you said, you just had to face up to moving on and meeting new people. Didn’t mean completely abandoning old mates, but it just wasn’t practical to maintain such regular contact when you were living at opposite ends of the country – or in different countries. Now it’s easy to maintain various circles of friends.

    The downside of that could be that we settle for less – quantity and superficiality or transience rather than quality and depth and investment.

    The upside is that we didn’t get wiped out in a nuclear war. Hooray. All those demonstrations, marches, bloackades, etc must have worked. Or something.

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