It was 1981. Tracy, Cheryl and I were lip-syncing to the Go Go’s, We’ve Got the Beat, in Cheryl’s driveway. Passing motorists honked and cheered our performance as Tracy grabbed a broom handle and did her best Belinda Carlisle.
Ronald Reagan became our 40th president. We debated Carter and Reagan in school. I supported Reagan because my parents did.
The Pacific Ocean crashed in the distance. The cool, salty evening air was refreshing. We were thirteen and the happy residents of a small beach town in Western Washington. We stayed up most of the night drinking pop, dishing about Rick Springfield and John Stamos, and practicing our dance routine for the junior high talent show.
Iran released fifty-two American hostages. I was glad they were coming home safe.
We spent a good bit of time talking about boys. Tracy was going with Pat…again. Cheryl had Kent try to kiss her beneath the bleachers during a basketball game, but she freaked out. I had liked Eric until he asked me to go with him. After months of mooning over him, I said yes, but told him no the next day. It was just too weird. Terri was going with Eric now. Tracy told us that she caught them French kissing in the back of the rooter bus—so gross!
John Hinkley shot President Reagan and James Brady in an assassination attempt. I was grateful that Reagan recovered, and sorry for Brady’s lasting injuries. I began to think that we needed stricter gun control laws.
The next morning we walked to town to buy matching monogrammed t-shirts. This year they were pink and white with butterflies and bore the slogan, “Sweet Things.” We used our nicknames on the back of our shirts: Cher, Trace and Dee.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married. I tried to stay up for the wedding, but couldn’t make it. I made a scrapbook of magazine cutouts of the royals. It was a real-life fairytale.
From there we walked to the bookstore. I could never resist books and had to buy a couple. We went through Marsh’s Free Museum and bought horoscope rolls and taffy—laughed at the alligator man and two-headed calf. We explored every novelty. Then we hit the arcade, where we found Chris, Troy and Scott hanging out trying to achieve the highest score on Asteroids.
President Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers.
Later we went to the Fun Center and rode bumper cars, eventually ending up at Long Beach elementary, where we played on the tires and swings. A group of our friends met us there and we had a game of hide and seek that encompassed the school and a few city blocks.
Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor. I’m not sure I even knew it.
Innocent, young, carefree…the real news of the day barely touched my friends and me. We had our own concerns, as we grew up in our idyllic beach town. Most of us had dreams of leaving the peninsula for a place that had a movie theater, at minimum. We didn’t see the treasure surrounding us clearly. We could roam the “world’s longest beach,” we knew our neighbors, we poked around town without supervision, and we had each other. Our awareness of the world was dawning, but for the moment, we were safe and free.
Each of us is on a journey that began in the mind of God and lasts an eternity. Every moment along the way is precious. My life in 1981 is as nearly as alive in my memory, as it was when I lived it. The sights I saw, the things I did and the people I loved are part of me.
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