My golden days, decades away

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 10:46am

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Society has had many cultural rebirths, and I have always wanted the same for myself. But not just a new chapter of my life. I waste too many hours pondering a literal rebirth — if I could be born again in another time and experience my personal renaissance in a different way. It’s a shame that the only renaissance I’ve been (un)lucky enough to be present for is the rise of social media. Of course I got to be there for the phenomenon that would enable my mental health hitting the gutter in high school. It feels like I missed out on all too much.

What if I’d been born in 1973, and got to grow up with the birth and golden age of hip hop? I’d be six years old when the Sugar Hill Gang dropped “Rapper’s Delight,” surely dancing to it with all my friends in front of the boom box at the playground. I imagine being fourteen when Paid in Full came out. I would close my locker and look to my friend beside me, wearing overalls with one strap off, and say, “Yo, you hear the new Eric B. and Rakim?” (According to my dad, who was indeed fourteen the year Paid in Full came out, this highly-important question was on the mouth of every kid in school when he came back in the fall). Instead of crying over Mac Miller, I would have been there shedding tears when I first heard about Tupac’s untimely death.

I imagine if I’d been 16 at the height of drive-in movie theatres. It’s the summer of 1956, and I’m behind the wheel of my dad’s Buick only days after getting my license. Beside me is the most beautiful girl in the school, Tina Jane with the blond curls, and we’re watching “Rebel Without a Cause.” Inches separate our shoulders. Nothing is on my mind other than her, and I can hardly focus on the movie — I’m trying my hardest to keep it cool, making a silent prayer for my first kiss.

Maybe if I got to experience my 20s in the 20s, I would be living in New York, freshly graduated and dancing for the first time at a lavish party on Long Island’s North Shore. I’d rock the brown wool, peak-lapel, four-button jacket and a light pink cotton dress shirt with french cuffs. I’d match it with sleek brown cap toes and a diagonal striped tie — deep burgundy, forest green and golden brown. Relaxing on the balcony after hours of dancing, I’d look up to the stars, sipping champagne as the live music beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (“The Great Gatsby”).

Is there a place for me, even further back and farther away?

At my heart, I am a born-and-raised product of the 21st century. At fourteen, I got to be there when Drake’s Nothing Was the Same came out — which is cool, but substantially less cool than experiencing the new Eric B. and Rakim. There was no glamorous first kiss in Dad’s Buick with a curly-blond bombshell — I took my first date to the regular movie theater, awkwardly held hands during “The Fault in Our Stars,” and only had a nervous “i had fun :)” text to show for it. My first party was not in a fancy oceanside mansion but in a cramped basement. There was no champagne, just Costco-brand vodka and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Admittedly, I don’t see any Gatsby-style roaring twenties parties in my future.

Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe there’s no time better than now to grow into myself. After all, most of my closest friends are of racial and sexual identities that didn’t have a space in society until now, and I wouldn’t have become who I am without them in my life. I still do yearn for a rebirth, to get a taste of a pastime I never had. But my golden age is today, and I think that’s perfectly okay.