Anyone who knows me well knows I love ’80s music. I have several variations of ’80s music stations set up in Pandora and I have considered subscribing to satellite radio just so I can have an all ’80s station in the car. The decade encompassed my entire K-8 experience and the music takes me back to a simpler time in my life. Certain songs remind me of long days exiled to my room to clean it, or of trips to the Salt River, junior high crushes, and of so many dear friends. The music makes me feel young again and it makes me want to dance (which is saying something, trust me).
I do not remember my mom being a fan of ’80s music when I was growing up. She listened to a lot of ’70s rock and even country music. I always felt that she was simply putting up with my music when it was on the radio. You heard me right…I said my music. It was not until recently that I realized I had claimed the whole decade of music for myself and my generation. We were certainly the only ones connected with it…the ones who who really got it. Right? Silly me.
I recently took my mom to one of the coolest places ever, Starfighters Arcade. This place is amazing because for one reasonable price, you can play unlimited classic arcade games and the jukebox is full of ’80s music (on forty-fives, see the picture above). I selected a few songs including Footloose, Modern Love, Heart and Soul, and Tainted Love. I was in (Just Like) Heaven! Then my mom blew my mind.
My mom was loving the music and with just about every song, she shared a memory with me. She shared so many memorizes of fun times she had in the ’80s and was in very high spirits. Then she said, “Aunt Linda used to play this song over and over again on the jukebox when she worked at the Sunset.” I stopped in my tracks. My Aunt Linda died in a terrible car accident in 1990 when she was just 32. She was my mom’s little sister and best friend. Her death rocked our family. You could say, it took the music out of our lives for quite some time. The music. My music?
I thought I had come a long way in realizing that my mom existed outside of being “mom” and that she had an adult life and interests aside from me. In Forgiving My Imperfect Parents, I wrote “ I am able to see my parents as individuals who exist outside of their roles as my mom and dad.” Yet, I was still viewing the ’80s as my time. Somehow I missed the fact that that decade was the last one my mom got to spend with her little sister. Those 10 years are precious to her. Just as precious, if not more, than they are to me. During those 10 years she also watched her three children grow. The music that surrounded and filled our lives at that time made an indelible imprint on our memories. It is our music.
The ’80s are often referred to as the “Me Decade” but I think people in all periods are self-focused in many ways. It is part of being young and of growing up. I am learning that growing up and maturing happens our entire lives. Even at 40, I am still learning to see the many colors of life. My mom continues to get more complicated before my very eyes, yet I feel I understand her more. It is an amazing thing.
“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow