Nineties nostalgia

I have a confession to make: I went to my fifth Backstreet Boys concert last night and it was beyond awesome.

Before I lose many of you, let me just preface that by saying this: a good 75% of the reason I loved the experience so much was because it took me back to a time in my life where things were much, much simpler. That time was the good ‘ole 1990s.

Even though I was born in the eighties, I really grew up in the nineties. During that decade I cried at least twice a week over my inability to make my hair look exactly the way I wanted it to (and subsequently blamed my poor mother for the same), I found out how heart-wrenching teenage friendships can really be, and I was forced to grow up with a body that many people, including myself, never expected me to have.

And even though those things sound relatively depressing, each one of them truly made me into the individual I am now. The fact that they took place against the backdrop of the 1990’s where boy bands and mini-backpacks ruled, stirrup pants were in, and every preteen girl disturbingly wore a gold pacifier hanging from a leather thong around their neck makes those nostalgic memories – the good and the bad – seem all the more sweeter.

In the nineties I didn’t know people were harmfully cordoned off into groups depending on their sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or ability and were treated as different and even potentially dangerous. It was a time of relative bliss, in a way; not that I’m not a better person for being aware of this now, but there are definitely benefits to not knowing that you, in fact, belong to one of those groups identified as Other.

It also remains a unique mystery to me (after all, I love paradox) that the same decade that introduced grunge and punk also introduced pop music. Maybe if I was a bit older I might’ve fallen over myself for Nirvana instead of the Backstreet Boys, who knows. It does make sense to me, though, that my preferred music genre in those years consisted of fluffy lyrics and synthesized drum beats that effused happiness and, overall, the desire to love others (even though, admittedly, the “goal” was very narrowly defined as a heterosexual relationship that would fulfill one’s every desire). I guess my cynicism took until my early twenties to kick in.

But, pragmatically, I’m ok with that.

In addition to my throwback to the nineties last night (during a time when I screamed and danced my head off for two hours straight and then fell into bed and didn’t get up for twelve hours), I’ve also been watching (and unabashedly enjoying) Party of Five on Netflix. In addition to the unadulterated joy that comes with being able to access one of your favourite childhood TV dramas at all hours of the day, wherever you are, and binge watch five straight hours of Scott Wolf’s unbearably adorable dimples (not to mention Matthew Fox’s floppy ‘do), I can be transported to a time period that really does seem like it was too good to be true. The fashion trends were hilarious, the corny dialogue glorious. And, ultimately, the plot line of being invited into the lives of five of the most beautiful-looking white kids in America where the oldest “adult” was in his mid-twenties has a brilliant “the grass is greener” feel to it.

It’s a place I would go back to in my imagination, over and over, forever. Realistically, I’m glad those times are over.

But to remember them is priceless.

“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” – John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells


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