Over the past month or so I’ve been working on an article about Roseland in 1970. It has caused me consider how I view my own past, to ask whether my younger days were formative or memorable the way Paul’s, John’s, and Bob’s obviously were to them. 

A couple days before I had to turn a draft in, I met with Paul and John at John’s place to watch a twelve-year-old DVD of the footage they’d shot forty-eight years before. They took turns pointing at people and places flickering by on the screen, each triggering memories, stories. They were twenty-year-olds at the time, with their whole life ahead of them. I wondered sitting there whether I’d be as happy watching footage of myself at that age. Then again, 1990 was no 1970, so maybe that’s not a fair question.

Freezeframing scenes from the video to use for my article, I was struck by the many older people dressed in styles more in vogue in the 40s or 50s than in 1970. The generational split was loud and clear in shot after shot. I doubt the 1990 version would seem nearly as stark. By that time there was already a sizable contingent of older people acting and dressing young. It was already difficult to tell generations apart. It’s virtually a lost cause today. I doubt it’s possible to tell ages apart anymore, except for in the broadest terms. 

Meeting with John a few days later, I remarked that though I’m pushing fifty I can’t point to a single moment in my past I’d want to return to. I’d love a twenty-year-old’s metabolism but not much else. That’s not to say that my entire life up to writing this sentence has been an abject, miserable slog; only that I can’t imagine reliving to any of it. 

One of the great fringe benefits of sharing other people’s stories is how it causes you to reflect on your own. Just the name Old Fashioned Days makes one fall into reverie, to think of some far-in-the-past time. To be sure, not all of John’s, Paul’s, and Bob’s memories are rose-colored, but they sat on this old footage nearly fifty years to save it for today.

I hope that when I reach their age I’ll have a relic or two to look back on fondly as well.