You don’t get drunk on red wine, and fight no more,
‘Cause I don’t see you anymore,
Since the hospital,
But the plans I make still have you in them,
Then you come swimming into view,
And I’m hanging on your words like I always used to do,
The words they use so lightly, I only feel for you,
I only know this because I carry you around,
In the background.
–Third Eye Blind
Sometimes, when I look at old pictures of Gen-Xers, I’m struck most by what is going on in the background. A Home Interiors figurine on the shelf and newspapers strewn atop metal TV trays. Orange and brown afghans thrown over chairs. Pink Formica countertops. Flocked and foil wallpaper. I loved it all.
These were the colors, shapes and textures of my past. Things I can only revisit in my mind. Things to which I can never return. People, also. So many are gone, now. Some young, some old.
I can never go back to the 1970s, to that little Texas town where I chased tumbleweeds and ate fried burritos. Where I played Rhinestone Cowboy on the Pizza Hut jukebox. Where I stood on the precipice of adolescence and sang You Light Up My Life. Where I hoped my father wouldn’t hold it against me that I was growing up — and out.
I lost my footing on the steep incline of that transitional stage. Never recaptured whatever it was I lost. Held growing up against myself.
Most days, I scrounge around for pictures of Generation X, and when I find a good one I lap it up. I savor it and then I share it in this makeshift archive they call a blog. Subjects in the foreground are often beautiful, but it’s the details in the background — those things that sit inconspicuously in the depth of field — that I cherish most. I’ve trained my eye to see it all.
I am looking for my memories, for my life, in other peoples’ pictures. And when I see something familiar — something we had or something we wanted — I gain a better understanding of the kid I was and the era in which I came of age.
Every day during the month of October, I will post a vintage Halloween picture from the Gen X trick-or-treating years. You can follow along on Facebook or the Gen X blog. If you have a picture you’d like to share, I’d love to post it.