I am officially a total geek right now.
I am listening to the Batman soundtrack (the Danny Elfman score, not that Prince monstrosity) on my PC speakers while I type this.
I think it’s appropriate, because I’m writing this morning about those really awesome days of youth, when nobody understands you, your parents are completely unreasonable, and you can’t wait to grow up.
During those days in my life, the Batman score competed with Black Celebration and Only a Lad for air time in my car. It was part of the soundtrack of my life.
Last night, I was watching the History Channel, and this commercial for some 80s super box set comes on. It’s pretty standard for an 80s collection: there’s Foreigner and Journey, as well as some Crowded House and Howard Jones (yeah, I thought that was a weird mix, too.)
While I’m watching this commercial, I start to feel this completely overwhelming sadness. This type of massive sadness that starts so deeply within me, I can’t even define its origin in a physical location. It was sadness coming out of my soul. I get this feeling that I can only describe as “hyper-nostalgia.”
So I’m sitting there in bed, my cat snuggled up to me on one side, my wife sound asleep on the other side, and I start to silently weep, as this David Fincheresque montage of childhood images and feelings races through my mind. I can feel my fear and nervousness the first morning I went to public high school in 9th grade. I can feel the excitement of standing in line to see Batman, in Westwood, at 9AM a few weeks before it opened. I see faces of friends long forgotten, and places which were teenage hangouts that don’t even exist anymore. I feel pain, love, hope…but mostly, I feel sadness and regret that is completely overwhelming.
It’s like I’m sitting in my bed, mourning the passing of my youth.
It’s not that my life is totally miserable now, it’s just so much more complicated than it was when I was a child, and I haven’t really stopped to think about that in quite some time.
I mean, I would gladly trade wondering whatever bullshit my wife’s ex-husband is going to pull today for not being able to stay out past 12 with my friends.
I would gleefully trade worrying about making mortgage payments for…well, for anything, really!
Every time I go to Paramount, I look around and I think to myself, “man, I had it so good here. Too bad I was too young and arrogant to realize that.” But that could be a series of entries, all on it’s own.
When I go up to my parent’s house, and go to my old bedroom, I can see in my mind the phantoms of my teenage years: Watchmen comics bagged and hung on the walls. Depeche Mode concert posters above my bed, where my cat Ziggy would be sleeping. Stacks of GURPS source books on the floor, and, of course, my Mac II, complete with smokin’ fast 2400 baud modem.
I miss all of these things, and writing about them now I can really feel a sense of loss, and longing. I just closed my eyes, and I could see things in my old bedroom that I haven’t thought about in years: 82 Los Angeles Kings season ticket stubs from 1988-89, taped to the wall next to my computer, underneath this simply dreadful fantasy-art poster I bought at a game con that same year. A clump of silly string mashed into the cottage cheese stuff on the ceiling, above my bed. Five book shelves, filled with VHS copies of the entire collection of 79 episodes of Star Trek.
I recently visited one of my best friends from high school, who moved into his mom and dad’s house when they moved out. It’s the same house we hung out in when we were young, but now his kids are running around in it…and I can still see the path we wore through the ivy, going up the hill to my house. The house is the same, but it’s so very, very different now.
My best friend Darin is getting married in just a few weeks. Darin and I have known each other since I was 14 and he was 16. We have done just about everything together, and crossed lots of major bridges together on our way to adulthood. I’ve been married with kids for 2 years, but never felt like it was that big a deal…it’s HIM getting married that makes me feel like we’re finally adults, with mortgages and responsibilities. When he is married, we will have crossed another major rubicon together.
So when I saw this commercial last night, it hit me: I’m turning 30 in 3 months.
Three months, man.
I am the primary father figure to two kids, one of whom will be a teenager two days after I turn 30.
A teenager, man.
I am going to be the parent to a teenager, and I’m going to be 30. I don’t know why that’s fucking with me as much as it is, but it sure is burning a lot of cycles in my brain.
Thing is, I know that I’ll be 40 someday, and I’ll look back and think, “Man, I thought things were so messed up at 30…and I was so wrong,” as I watch Ryan graduate from college, or get married, or whatever.
But right now, I miss those wonderful days in the late 80s and early 90s, when I couldn’t wait for the weekend, so I could hang out at Darin’s house and play GURPS and Illuminatti, before heading out to the movies to catch whatever crappy Lethal Weapon movie was in theatres.
I totally understand that saying about youth being wasted on the young. I guess that’s the beauty of childhood: we don’t know how tough life is going to get when we grow up, so we cavalierly waste time, blissfully ignorant of how valuable our youth is going to be to us, late one night when we can’t sleep, because we’re thinking about paying bills.