Sometimes I replay memories in my head and find it interesting to think about them in terms of what I didn’t know or hadn’t done yet.
For example, I saw Def Leppard in February 1988, which was absolutely the best time to see them before or since (early on the Hysteria tour). I remember it as the first truly great time I had since moving to the Huntsville area a year and a half earlier. I think about the individual moments of that evening–the pizza before we went to the show, the fat girls who stood at the rail and blocked our view of most of supporting act Tesla’s set, the excitement I felt at hearing “Stagefright”–and I think: wow. All of that happened nearly six years before I sent my first email. Also, I was in the same room with my wife that night–but I wouldn’t meet her until that same six years later.
Or I remember hanging out with David Kitchens in my dad’s den. We watched MTV back when they showed 14 videos per hour, and you had to push a manual button on a converter box to watch it. We played Frogger and Yars’ Revenge on the Atari 2600. We ate oil-popped popcorn from the Hamilton Beach popper with the clear yellow plastic bin. And I think: wow. All of that was five years before I made the stupidest decision of my life and began smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. (Yes, I’ve since quit, but it isn’t always easy.)
Sometimes it’s sad. I remember being excited that my mother was coming up from Anniston to my 30th birthday party, because it would be the first time she’d see the house Lea and I had built together seven months earlier. I look at photographs of that evening and consider having no clue that it was also the last time she’d see our house, because she would be dead nine days later. I look across the living room now, where two grandchildren she never knew sit watching Looney Toons and smiling at me because I’m smiling at them, and can’t believe she only sat in it once.
I didn’t have a profound point, so I hope you haven’t read this far looking for one. But if you have a good memory for how you felt “at the time,” it can be interesting to explore against something that’s true now that wasn’t true then.