Thursday, October 26, 2017

Life in the 80s

The 80s.
So, Stranger Things 2 is coming to Netflix.  I watched the first one, and it hit my 80s vibe so much.  There were a few things that I was disconnected from - living in Calgary is completely different than living in the USA.  But there was enough that hit home for me.

Back behind the Mobil home I lived in was a bunch of dunes we called the 'dirt tracks'.  This was dug out dirt that wound around the region - undeveloped land.  I'd go there with my friends, bike around the dunes, play with our action figures, and do jumps off this one space which was perfect for that.  Two or three or more of us would line up on one side, and someone would shoot down one side, up the other, and sail over us.  It was cool.  There was a pond with salamanders there as well, and we'd catch them, and let them go, or try to raise them if we could get an aquarium.

My mom and dad didn't want me in the house that much.  I'd go out, spend the entire day wandering around, doing what I wanted to do.  Sometimes this was hanging out and playing Dungeons and Dragons (hey!  like the kids in that show!) on someone's front porch or in their house.  Sometimes it was out to the 'dirt tracks', sometimes it was down at a friend's place, almost an hour's walk away, or a trip to the swimming pool, which was almost two hour's walk away, or sometimes it was to the closest shopping mall, well over two hour's walk away.

I didn't tell my parents where I was going usually - as long as I was home for supper, it was okay.  And if I was out after supper?  Home by 8-9 pm.  Not, you know, that I really paid that much attention to that.  I was sometimes late for dinner, and sometimes out a bit too late at night.

Some people talk about the tension in the 80s.  I never saw it.  Then again, I was naive as all hell.  There was this threat of nuclear war - but that worry was distant - in the back of my mind, as something that 'probably isn't going to happen'.  I didn't worry about it, I had other things on my mind.

So... here's where things get interesting.
If you know me... and if you've been paying attention, you know about Legion.  And, while I was completely unaware of them, they existed back then and went about their existence as best they could without me being aware.

We built entire mental scapes in my head for them, and what I thought was just 'hey, imagination!' was them doing things to enjoy themselves.  'What if this was real?'  'Let's set it up so this is going on', and other stuff.  They'd then inhabit what was built, and just entertain themselves.  It... was distracting.  Or, if I'd be going someplace, they'd swap me out, let me enjoy the stuff built into my head, and take over, enjoying the scenery as I walked from one end of Bowness to the other.

I think to some extent, they also protected me from the worst that was out there.  I can't tell you where the tipping point was.  I just know sometime - between Grade 3 and Grade 7, there was a change.  I went from 'me' to 'we'.  Or... maybe it was even before that, but... I don't think so.

My fights with Kyle?  Not always me.  It was probably Mark who chased Kyle down the street to defend our friend Brent.

The person who stood their ground for half an hour or more against a would-be-bully, laughing at the thought of seeing what this guy could do?  Not me.  Probably Shawn.

The person who threw themselves at a student in Jr. High, without any thought of who the person was, or personal safety?  That was Dark.

The person who *almost* clocked a teacher in the back of the head for insulting us in front of the whole class?  Probably Shawn - and THANK THE GODDESS I stopped him before it happened.

But these were also the people who kept me company when I was alone at home.  I wasn't allowed company over, so if I wasn't outside, with friends, I was alone.  So they kept me company.  We'd play with my action figures together, giving them names and personalities.  They'd help me work out ideas in my head - thinking about distant places, or 'what ifs'.

I just didn't know it at the time.  But then, I didn't have any point of reference - I thought everyone talked to themselves, and heard themselves answer in other voices.

Daryl was there - my younger brother.  Immature, impulsive.  There was Sonic as well, who ... well, admittedly, was very, very strange.  Bard was there, playing constant music in my head (though these days, it sometimes sounds external, too.)

I wonder what it would have been like if I knew who they were.  If I realized 'I' was 'we'.  I honestly don't know, but I'm kind of sad I didn't get to acknowledge my brothers (and sister) when I was a lot younger.


I remember some of the girls I hung out with and knew at the time.  I had no idea how to deal with women except for 'hey, it's a person I know, and I shouldn't treat them differently than anyone else - except no hitting.'  Initials go here. RL, MB and CL, J? and SD, RB and PG.  And of course, there was the woman who lived across the street from me - I don't remember her name, but... seriously.  I was 18, and she was well into her 20s, and what the hell did she see in me?

There's things I remember from my time in Calgary about them, and some of these things... I don't think they remember.  RL didn't remember when I'd hurt her feelings, but I feel glad that I was able to call her up and apologize.  Seriously, when someone's model-level attractive and you have no idea how to even comprehend they're in the same airspace as you... yeah.  I shouldn't have teased, but I didn't have any idea what to even *think*.  I still have a soft spot in my heart for Bluehawk.  She's shown up a few times in my D&D games.

CL triggered my ASMR one evening.  Sitting in a semi-dark room, laying backwards from one another (head-at-ankles), and she just started running her hand along my shin and ankle.  I mentioned that was relaxing, so she kept doing it.  There was nothing sexual about it - we were just talking about things, and then my brain switched off because OMG that was relaxing.  I could have sat there for hours, just talking, half-out of focus because it was so soothing.

Which reminds me - one time on the school bus, some girl behind me started stroking my hair.  My brain simply shut off, and I enjoyed the entire bus trip in a trance.  To this day, I've got no idea who it was - but whoever it was?  Thank you, that was ... bliss.

My friend Neil, at one point, found a letter from MB to BM - her boyfriend.  I got to read it briefly, and... you know?  I was a bit amused at what was said - but on some level, I got it.  She liked him, and that was fine.  I didn't mention this to anyone, because as far as I was concerned, it was private.  I was naive, sure, but... these were friends, and I saw no reason to tease them over a love-letter.  MB did me a favour once, though it was weird.  I'd never had a girlfriend, and she was sitting in BM's lap.  So, I asked if she could sit in my lap.  She did... and it was interesting.  I was like 'huh, okay, so this is a thing'.  It didn't get my hormones revved, but it explained some things to me, and ... I'm actually grateful.

J? and SD.  Two girls I seriously liked.  Those two girls were the ones who set my 'type' for the next decade.  J had almost-red hair, SD was blond, and ... while I didn't know them that well, they were kind of a 'night and day' for me.  SD was petite, and J was a touch tomboyish, and I was drawn to them for those reasons.  SD ... barely tolerated me, which is okay, because she wasn't cruel or anything.  J... I actually got the guts to ask her out once - and got shot down.  But she was nice about it - a simple 'no, sorry', and that was that.

RB.  My 'girlfriend'.  In that a common friend of us ours set us up as a pair.  Considering I knew nothing about how to handle a relationship, I... was okay.  We went out on a date once (to see Rooftops.  I won two tickets from Much Music).  That was fine.  We played RPGs together.  I kind of wish she didn't smoke.  And we never did anything really 'coupley' until my 18th birthday.  She put her arms around me, and I had NO IDEA how to react to that.  And ... I moved away that month, to Ottawa.  She wrote me, once.  I lost the envelope with her return address - then the letter from her disappeared.

That's my last regret for Calgary - that I have no idea where she is, how she's doing, and I never got the chance to write her back and say 'thank you'.  I hope she's doing okay.

PG.  She's on my list of 'solid friends'.  I hung out with her and her brothers, we played D&D and other games, and she was a solid friend.  I liked her, enjoyed hanging out with her, and while sometimes I was a brat, she was nothing but nice to me.  Heck, she let me sit in her room and read her Amethyst comic collection (which was kind of cool, honestly).  She was, at the time, the ideal of the 'platonic girlfriend'.  She's the person who pretty much trained me that 'you know, you can have friends, who are girls, and ... that's okay'.


The 80s were strange.  Complex in a lot of ways that I didn't understand, and incredibly simple in other ways.  It was like, my personal space was simple.  Life for me was simple.  But there was so much going on that I simply couldn't comprehend - I wasn't a part of it, it didn't touch me, and that was okay.

I remember someone having broken the wing of a seagull when I was in high school.  I went out, captured it in my sweater, put it in a box, went through class with it, and then took it to a wild animal clinic downtown with another student.

Had no idea who that student was, but she sat with me on the bus, helped me get it to the clinic, and that was that - never saw her again.

I remember my Phys Ed high school class, where a student suplexed me so hard it knocked the wind out of me.  That Christmas, my Phys Ed teacher (as Santa) brought me down in front of the entire school during assembly, sat me on his lap, and gave me a 50 pack of MUSCLE action figures as 'bodyguards'.

I laughed.  It was great.
Then I went home and wrote a wrestling-based RPG, because that's how my mind worked.  And then I sold it to my friend David for $10 before I moved to Ottawa.

Then I wrote it again.  Tweaked it a bit.


Things were not as fun or simple once I got to Ottawa.  Moving into a new house, not knowing anyone, trying to find a niche in high school where nobody knew me.  The stress my parents were going through, and me just not knowing how I 'fit' anywhere.

Rod was probably the greatest thing to happen to me, when I moved into Kanata.  Cat was the greatest thing to happen to me once I met her.  Rod was an anchor - he grounded me, and was the brother I needed.  Even when he moved away, he kept in touch with me, and I needed that.  When he moved back to Ottawa, it was great, we picked up as if we'd never parted ways.


Is there a point to this?  No, not really.  Just... I've not done this in a long, long time.  Just writing, and writing, and writing, letting my thoughts flow out.

It feels good.  But I should stop.



  1. Mmm. Sort of wish I remembered more of the 80's. Bits and pieces. Some places. Some music. I remember all of half a dozen friends over that decade - maybe two or three at any given time. We moved around with some regularity, so there were new schools, new people, and little in the way of enduring attachments. Certainly, life was more carefree or I never would have met the older kid who introduced me to D&D. But we also had duck-and-cover drills at school with both earthquakes and nuclear war in mind - neither seemed all that threatening to me, but adults certainly made a big enough deal about them. I remember avoiding the "big kids," but never really getting in fights, being picked on, or doing picking-on.

    And I should probably watch Stranger Things sometime...

    1. We didn't have the duck or cover drills - the entire idea of nuclear war was there, but it didn't feel like a real threat. It was a 'this could happen, but meh' sort of thing for me. Even the adults around me didn't seem to take it that seriously. The 80s was big hair, music, and strange mix-and-match clothing.