Martorella: 80’s Girl
I’ve been feeling a bit of the “overwhelm” lately, chasing after all the dropped balls, and suffering a little lowering of the self-esteem as I try to maintain some type of work-life balance while bearing the pressure of responsibility for the physical, moral, and academic development of two young humans and the happiness of the household in general.
When I feel this way, I often find myself daydreaming about curling up on my couch. But surprisingly, it’s not my current couch or my current home that provides me with comfort in my dreams. It is invariably the playroom and kitchen from my childhood that I crawl into in my mind’s eye.
It should be noted that I live in my hometown, so it’s not like I’m homesick. And though I had a fine childhood, there wasn’t anything particularly special about it, it was just - simpler.
When I close my eyes and think of my current home, I see only the mess. It triggers stress and worry about the endless to do’s, the walls that need painting, the furniture that needs replacing, the piles of paperwork. My childhood home wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t my responsibility. I kept my bedroom neat and decorated with everything I loved, and our family room couch offered the perfect view of the afternoon soaps, Phil Donahue and Oprah, or whatever family sitcom was on the major networks at the time. I did my homework, practiced for activities, and gabbed on the phone. Of course I felt the usual teenage angst and the pressure to do well, but it wasn’t topped with work, parenting, and finances. Ah, the good old days.
Admittedly, I’ve been actively seeking the comforts of my ’80s childhood even in the real world lately.
Last month, I went to see Phil Collins in concert at Madison Square Garden with the same group of friends who attended his MSG concert with me in 1985! Some of us had stayed in touch, while others had not seen each other since that 1985 show, but we were all sparked to reunite when the tour was announced. Meeting these old friends again was oddly comforting, and the years between visits disappeared as we reconnected. I also felt reconnected with my old self, the real “me” now hidden under the burdens and responsibilities of adulthood, the one whose head is still filled with 80’s lyrics, each song taking me right back to my days of LPs and mix tapes. When Phil ended his show with a passionate “Take Me Home” I told my friends, “No! I don’t want to go home!” In many ways, I was already there.
Maybe it was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, or my recent college reunion where old photos covered the walls, that got me 80’s-happy. Or maybe it’s not just me. There has been a major resurgence of 80’s and 90’s in the culture and the media. Remakes of everything from “Highlander” to “Full House” to “Beverly Hills 90210” on TV, “Ghostbusters” and “Charlie’s Angels” (again) in the movies (and many more 80’s remakes to come), and even “Beetlejuice” on Broadway. After a remake of the ’80s hit “Africa” ruled the airwaves in 2018, Whitney Houston is back on top of the charts this year (posthumous) with a remake of “Higher Love.” The documentary “Framing John DeLorean” details the life of the auto executive whose biggest legacy may be the time-traveling car in “Back to the Future.” Matthew Broderick made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live playing current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with a nod to Ferris Bueller in his exit line, “Impeachment moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.” Regardless of your political views, if you were an 80’s kid, you smiled.
Even the one hit wonders are getting into the game. Last week, a theater near my office was featuring ’80s pop legend Tiffany, she of “I Think We’re Alone Now” fame. We’re not alone, Tiffany, not at all. Seems generation is running the entertainment sector now, and feeling just as nostalgic as we are.
Look at Disney+, the new streaming service which basically offers our childhood on a platter. I teased my husband as he excitedly counted down to the launch, but as I watched him enthusiastically scrolling thru Star Wars titles and calling the kids in for “Herbie The Love Bug” this weekend, I realized that this is probably his own way of seeking comfort. He doesn’t show the overwhelm like I do, but I suppose he feels it sometimes too. Maybe Luke Skywalker is his Phil Collins.
Well, gotta go. The Muppet Movie is on, and my couch is waiting.
Rebecca Martorella, LMFT welcomes ideas and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org