I went for a run tonight and I ended up running a route that took me back in time.
My house was built in 1991 but many of the houses in the older parts were built in the 80’s and there was something about them that was just calling me tonight. They are clearly older homes from a style long gone. The homes are much smaller, but the majority of them are very well kept and interesting to look at. The landscaping is often elaborate and there are very large trees throughout. It just gives the whole area more of a feel of being in nature.
The newer neighborhoods that I sometimes run through have much bigger houses and everything about them is “new”. I often find it kind of boring scenery with the houses all similar shades and decorated in the new “clean” style. It’s not that I don’t like these new homes, I actually do like them. It’s just that there’s something about this old style that tugs at my heartstrings and makes for a better run.
Maybe it’s because it reminds me of “simpler times.” Sure, I know the 80’s had plenty of its own issues, but looking back on it now, it sure seems better than what’s going on today.
We never had air conditioning when I was a kid. My kids don’t know how we all would grab sleeping bags and sleep in the basement on hot summer nights or how a heavy rain would bring out all the neighborhood kids to go dance. We spent most of our summers outside and the neighborhood kids were our best friends. Our homes weren’t big and beautiful but we didn’t really care. I can still hear the sound that our screen door made as it shut because we literally ran in and out of each other’s houses all day.
But there was something else missing back then too. I’m reminded of it as I pass a house with a sign proudly displaying the families ideology. In this side of the hood, it’s the first and only one I see. Over on our side, it’s more plentiful. I can’t remember a time from my childhood that people posted their ideologies in their front lawn. If I look back, I doubt we knew any of our neighbors political beliefs other than the signs in support of a person in the weeks leading up to an election. I definitely don’t recall my parents ever talking about our neighbors politics.
Today, in this world my children are growing up in, every aspect of life has been politicized. It’s not just outside people’s homes, it’s in their social media profile. It’s in the comment section of every local news story. It’s in the products you buy, it’s in the tv and movies you watch and even medicine has been politicized, and it’s just too much.
I had to wonder at all that’s changed in the last 30 years; the technology, the political divisiveness, the size of our homes. Has it made us happier? It doesn’t seem like it has. People seem angrier than I’ve ever seen in my life. Are our children happier? I’m trying as hard as I can to give my children the kind of childhood I had and I’m so thankful I live in a neighborhood where it’s a reality.
It was nice to take a jog down memory lane and think about the direction our country and the people of it have taken. Maybe it’s wishful thinking to hope our country gets sick of all this polarization and can get back to just respecting one another and leaving politics for the voting booth.
One of my favorite movies of all time, Forrest Gump was from the 90’s. If you watch it today, it’s the ultimate movie of the two “sides” coming together with the marriage of Forrest to Jenny. They were a surprisingly good couple because they balanced each other out. It’s something that seems impossible today. I myself have always been able to see other people’s ideas and beliefs that differ from my own in the light that they are good intentioned. Lately however, I’ve been having a harder time as it’s entrenched every aspect of our entire lives. My husband and I don’t even watch any tv any more. All our favorite shows have some political message or are just a reflection of what’s going on currently and I just feel like I need a break from it. We watched tv for entertainment and to escape reality, not be reminded of it 24/7.
I don’t know where things are headed but if people don’t really change their ways and keep dividing, I fear the great things about the generation I grew up in will be gone forever. I keep thinking “it doesn’t have to be like this”. For us, we will try to raise our children well in a mixed up world. We’ll try to allow them the innocence of their youth as much as we’re able. Childhood is short. I want ours to enjoy it.