Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Retroblogging 1980: July 11, 1980

Audrey's Birthday Party, July 11, 1980

I was going through the aforementioned pile of miscellanea and found this nondescript envelope with notations on the back. Out came the picture with more comments on the back, and fortunately, Mom's handwriting in blue to note the date.

Combined with the tattered notebook from 1980, this is one priceless look at that summer when I was eight, and on the cusp of having my world turned upside down. (To quote family lore: My reaction when being told we were moving ... to Connecticut: "I don't want to move there. They talk funny." I'm not even sure I knew where CT was when I made that statement. Maybe I was thinking of Kentucky? And who has a slight New York cadence/accent now? Me!)

Audrey is second from left, on the lawn chair, with the bangs. I'm second from right with the short boy's bob and the blue shoes. We're surrounded by church and class-mates, including Valerie P. between us and probably Jerry-Don W. in the back pulling a mug. Aud's wearing a classic outfit in a Winnie the Pooh print, and I can't believe how gangly I am -- in a summer shirt probably made by Grandma Ollie (and something I've never been able to pull off since.) I never remember being that gangly. Or so unselfconscious in front of a camera.

We must have been having a blast. Audrey's house was awesome, full of nooks and crannies, air hockey tables, cuckoo clocks, taxidermy projects in the basement, pianos, and older siblings, with a back yard with tree houses and assorted vehicles and things.

Growing up in the '70s was idyllic, especially in that part of Utah. We could run in and out of each other's places. Our parents could let us travel the blocks between secure in the knowledge that we lived in a safe place and that 99% of the neighbors went to church with us and could keep an eye on us. We could play in the irrigation ditches when they filled with water. We knew how to respond to "strangers" and strangers alike. Our lives were contained in probably less than a mile radius: church, friends' houses, elementary school, parks, stores, and in my case, great-aunts/uncles cum grandparents.

It's probably best that this part of my childhood is "paused" forever in time. Even though I probably would have ended up in middle and high school with the same group of church and childhood friends, the pressures mounting on us by social changes and peers might have irrevocably changed our dynamics and life paths. Mom stayed in touch with Audrey's parents over the years, and/or we heard "through the grapevine" from my great-aunt, about the antics, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of my and my brother's peer groups. Not surprisingly, even for a pretty homogenous, religious group from Utah, the statistics include divorce, drugs issues, prison, health issues, out-of-wedlock children, drop-outs, etc., as well as the successes in marriages, education, business, etc.

Even though I was unhappy about the move, I literally cannot imagine what my life would have been like if we stayed .... except for imagining more parties, like this, in Audrey's backyard.

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