Thirtysomething nostalgia, right on schedule….

I was reading Wil Wheaton’s blog and he’s posted another of his well-written bits of teenage nostalgia…this time about a girl and perfume and the Car Wars Deluxe Boxed Set and the Smiths.

The nostalgia vortex beckons, doesn’t it? Hell, it downright yawns wide and sucks you in.

Must be the age. Thirtysomething. You start looking back, because forward doesn’t hold that much fascination any more.

Smells don’t do it for me, as they do for Unca Willy in his most recent entry. I’m a sounds guy. Music, specifically. For example, I cannot hear any track from Robert Plant’s Now & Zen without instantly being transported to the Spring semester of my Freshman year at the University of Kansas. My roomate, David, and I played that album near-constantly that semester.

Most of my clearest nostalgia is centered around music. The sound of A-ha’s Take On Me places me instantly in Mike’s Audi Fox, tearing around the twisting suburban sprawl of Johnson County, Kansas. This Is Big Audio Dynamite reminds me of time spent with Nikki Phillips, a friend from my high school drama department, who died in a car accident the year after we graduated. Tears for Fears’ Songs From the Big Chair is the soundtrack of after-school gatherings in Audra’s finished basement, trying to work up the courage to ask her “out”, before losing the opportunity to Mike (last I heard, they had a child recently).

Oddly, my clearest memory of my high school years isn’t connected to music, but rather to movies and RPGs. The last day of Sophomore year–May 24th, 1985. During our Chemistry final, David and I hear from Mike that he had spotted the new FASA Doctor Who RPG at Clint’s Games and Comics the previous afternoon. Since David and I were anxiously waiting for that release (perhaps the understatement of the decade), we fought the urge to smack Mike in the head for not mentioning it sooner, and got to a phone immediately after the test. David called his parents, who agreed to pick us up after school and take us to the store. A second call, to the store, placed two copies of the game behind the counter, waiting for us.

At the end of the school day, David and I waded through ankle-deep piles of discarded paper and school supplies which filled the school’s hallways. The brain-dead, overindulged children of priveledge who made up the bulk of our school’s population had “cleaned” their lockers by simply dumping the contents into the hallways. Unopened packs of looseleaf and graph paper, unused since their purchase at the beginning of the year…binders, pens and pencils…in short, gamer-supply paradise. We grabbed some stuff (including a denim-covered binder which I used for years afterward for my campaign notes), and met his folks out in the parking lot.

We drove to the mall, picked up the Doctor Who games, and made immediate plans to get together to begin play that summer. David and his parents then dropped me at home, where I read the rulebooks until later that evening, when I went to see the premiere of A View to a Kill with some other friends (Rob and Jerry, among others).

For some reason, that one day is crystal clear in my mind. Every second of it. It’s not particularly eventful, as other days have been. I think about it now, as I write this, and I realize that it was probably the happiest day of high school for me. A day spent with friends, doing things I enjoy–which is why I guess it’s been burned into my memory. A snap shot of an entire period of my life.

Damn…this has just gotten all “Stand By Me”, hasn’t it?

I’ll stop now. Sorry about that.


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