I get home pretty late from work, and though I really should just wash my face and crash out, I can't. I need to unwind a little, and this usually takes the form of watching bad TV and eating food I'd never admit to keeping in the house (Pop Tarts! Yo-Gos!). But with Mad Men, Glee & True Blood on hiatus, and Lost not starting until February, the pickings are pretty slim on my DVR. Last night I was scrolling though the guide, so desperate I almost turned on Bride Wars, when I saw The River's Edge was starting. I clicked INFO and saw the date. 1986. Nineteen-freaking-eighty six. I remember seeing it in the theaters. I wasn't old enough then, but in the 80s theaters just took your money, no questions asked. I went with my friends and we drank vodka we'd poured into empty perfume bottles (a whole nother story). I was obsessed with Keanu (that's Kay-ah-noo, not Kee-yah-noo--get it right) Reeves and was secretly delighted Ione Skye dressed all grungy, like me. I thought the movie was cool. If pressed, I'd probably say it was "really deep and metaphysical" (I didn't really know what metaphysical meant, but I used the word all the time.). The next week I probably went to see The Sure Thing or Ferris Bueller and forgot most of what I saw in River's Edge (except for Kay-ah-noo).
Totally different experience twenty-odd years later. No vodka for me--just chamomile tea and some Spanish cheese leftover from New Year's Eve. As the movie progressed I found I could not pay attention to it--even though Dennis Hopper and Crispin Glover put on quite a show--because I felt so horrified on behalf of the young actors. Ione Skye was sixteen when she made this movie, and she has sex onscreen! OK, she's miming real sex, but still. There is a twelve-year-old kid in it and he's shooting off a gun and throwing around the f-bomb! All I could think was, where were their mothers?
The lines between the generations are the blurriest they've ever been. The girl who babysits for my boys shops at the same clothing stores I do. My son listens to Green Day. I listen to Green Day. My freaking father-in-law listens to Green Day. I like to think I'm still pretty young, pretty hip. But every so often, something comes along and reminds me that twenty years have gone by. And I have changed with age. A lot.
I wonder how this affects my writing. I write YA because I loved that time of my life, even though it was often horrible. I feel close to all the emotions--in fact, it feels like they live right below the surface of my skin sometimes, so accessible, so fresh. But I wonder about the impact of time on memory. I wonder about what things don't ever change and what do. I think about the writers I know who still possess their SAT study guides and prom dresses. I wonder how my perspective differs from theirs. Then I wonder if it really matters. What do you guys think?