Sometimes, when I have a spare moment to think, I like to try to sum up the whole of a musician’s output with one or two words. It’s a game for boring meetings and stuck subways. So, if I was going to come up with something for Nine Inch Nails, it would be, “control.” Or, if it was Martin Gore from Depeche Mode, it would be “sex & religion” or perhaps “religion & sex.” But what about me? In light of my blogoversary later this week, I now have nearly three years of writing to come up with some sort conclusive description and I would have to say, the thing my writing has been most obsessed with is change. I’m always wondering what about life is the same as it was and what is different and what about the things that are the same are somewhat different and why I care about these things or not. I’m not really good at moving on, so much so that when I do move on, I usually realize that I never really cared in the first place.
I think all this over-introspection and constant dialogue with the past has been exacerbated by the arrival in my life of Facebook, a site the New York Times this week described as an extended version of “This Is Your Life.” Which is probably too bad as I spend way too much time being the guest on an imaginary episode as it is. This weekend, I saw that a friend of my niece has posted pictures which tagged her (this is how I could see them) of some sort of event at her high school called “Cafe Day.” The pictures did not help me understand what that was except costumes and sports and mugging for the camera seemed to be involved. I can tell you that it’s a new within the last twenty years innovation because my niece attends the same high school that I did.
But it was fun nonetheless to see how little the school itself had changed (it is a tiny school and has two or three hallways and just one bathroom for each gender) and how it hasn’t. The lockers are still the same ugly alternating colors and the women’s bathroom the same drab beigey pink. If you’re wondering why there was a shot in the bathroom, what I surmised was that the ladies use the bathroom for the same things we did, that is, to hang out and gossip in semi-privacy while avoiding teachers or class or whatever.
In fact, I distinctly remember one of the women with whom I am now Facebook friends confiding in me in that very closet of a bathroom that a good male friend wanted more from her but she had said no. Later, they married. Now, she’s married to someone else so you see, people, always trust your first instinct. But I digress. I find it thrilling revisiting a moment from the past and seeing it’s the same for someone else, my own niece. Recently, she joined a Facebook group for the school newspaper, for which I also wrote at about the time Al Gore was inventing the Internet. There is something comforting about this, I have to say, as though periods of time move in parallel, rather than one blending into the next in the linear fashion we all know and accept. This is more like a Lost episode. Or, perhaps more like the new Race to Witch Mountain movie, which isn’t a remake of my favorite book and movie from childhood, the producers take pains to say, but a “reimagining” of it. I wasn’t sure whether this piece of marketing hype was intended to mollify people my age or to reassure the currently young audience that it wasn’t that sort of old-fashioned Disney movie where a Winnebago lifting off the ground merited oooohs and aaaahs. No matter. It’s a useful device to explain something that you parents out there probably already understand. The past doesn’t have to be figured out and wrestled with as often when you see your progeny experiencing the same things you did. Of course it’s different for them. They have Facebook now. But in the pictures on Facebook, your niece is in a picture with your HS BFF’s niece against the exact same backdrop.
Title comes from:
Depeche Mode – In Your Room