I was 10 years old in 1985. I know, not quite an age to look back on with vast memory. It’s an important year because it pinpoints exactly when my formative years began. Music. Movies. It’s the year Everybody Wanted to Rule the World, after all.
10 years old. My god. It seems like eons ago. Here I am, 35 years later, living in the same city. I reside in an apartment where, as I type this, I look out onto a road I’d traversed many times as a kid on my bicycle: Grand Avenue, they call it. Believe me, it’s anything but – traffic, noise, and a woman who got shot in the head just by driving between two rival gangs having a gun fight. Grand, indeed.
Please don’t fault me for waxing nostalgia, but 1985 was a simpler time. Granted, being a kid helped. I had two responsibilities: going to school and not getting kidnapped. This was the year of the Night Stalker. How my best friend and I rode our bikes in the summer until 11 o’clock at night is beyond me. We’d sneak onto our school’s campus and play like fools. Nope, no red flags there. Just a couple of unsupervised adolescents running around in the dark. I don’t know how I survived. Interesting to note: we were never once stopped by the cops.
We were kind of poor in 1985. Not destitute. My mother worked her ass off, but sometimes powdered milk was a staple. Food stamps. None of this EBT nonsense nowadays where a parent can buy chips, soda, candy and NyQuil. Nope. We had only government-approved items to choose from. And god forbid my mother pick something as flashy as real cheese. “Sorry, miss, this has to go back,” the clerk chided. The slogan for food stamps should have been: We Strive For Total Humiliation!
Can’t forget the mall. I miss our little mall from the 80s. Sears. Chuck E. Cheese’s. Orange Julius. TG&Y. Farrell’s Ice Cream. Going to The Wherehouse to buy actual records. Shoes from Kinney’s. Imagination, where we could procure weird shit like rainbow dreamcatchers and tie-dye t-shirts. All along Valley Parkway, where teens drove their flashy cars and glowed in neon everything.
I saw The Goonies that year. In a theatre. By myself. Without much supervision, I could do these things. I was a good kid, at least. I could be trusted (an important element when you have a single mom who works). But that feeling of independence put a spring in my step, which was good, considering I had to walk four miles to get to the theatre.
I could go on and on. When I close my eyes I can make the dreary road ahead of my window disappear. I can remember the distinct feeling of growing up. I knew I was a kid, had no interest in being older yet. But 1985 is that year where it all came together – the music, the movies, the friendships.
And not getting stopped by the cops. Couldn’t have gotten away with all this otherwise.