When I think back to my junior high days, so many things come to mind- really bad top 40 rap, Luvs Baby Soft and Sunflowers perfume, a Cover Girl compact in my back pocket, after school walks to Barros, awkward dances on Friday nights...and handwritten notes. If you read this blog regularly you know of my penchant for nostalgia, so I'm sure you can imagine my joy this past weekend when I unearthed an orange shoebox full of notes from the glorious 90s, tucked away in a closet at my parents' house. I spent a good hour or two getting lost in 7th grade drama all over again, remembering all sorts of long-forgotten memories. It was the most hilarious trip down memory lane, but even more than that, it got me thinking about the whole idea of note-writing.
First though, let's set the mood with this classic junior high song:
I can't remember too much about those good old junior high days as far as classroom and learning time (except being forced to remember EVERY country in the world in World History while in the 9th grade- seriously insane), but what I do remember is the social stuff. And the way we all communicated when we weren't in the same class, or able to talk on our landline phones, the cords wrapped around the corner and under our bedroom doors, was through notes. The "does he like me" note to a mutual friend of a crush, the making plans for that weekend note, the group note (which later turned into a whole notebook my girlfriends and I passed around between every class period), the gossipy note full of secret nicknames and abbreviations, the list goes on.
So I got to thinking about today's junior high and high school kids. Do they still write notes? I'm pretty sure the majority doesn't. And I'm pretty sure that can be attributed to the instant gratification of texting. When I was in high school texting wasn't around. We had pagers- mine, a super cool sky blue Motorola model- but no cell phones outside of those first really big car phones and then the only-in-emergencies-extra-large-flip-phones we'd use to call our parents and check in while out at river parties (pretending we were safe and sound at a friend's house of course). So yeah, even in those years notes were still regularly happening. And later when I actually taught high school, I rarely saw notes being passed or being written. Texting in class, yes...ALL THE TIME...but hardly ever real, handwritten notes.
I think every generation likes to pretend their own generation grew up in a time when things were the way they should be, lived their lives properly (whatever that means), and that anything prior must be archaic, and anything after is just crazy. But of course time keeps on moving, things change. Life now is awesome- technology is wild and amazing and really great, but I think one of the major things kids today miss out on is a social media-free adolescence. I can't say what's better or worse because honestly, all I know is my own experience, but I often get sad thinking about childhoods that are so, so plugged in...and I say this while trying to avoid being totally judgmental in a "my generation was the best" kind of way.
I'm so grateful for that forgotten shoebox up high on that shelf in my old closet, filled with memories and stories and little bits of written history, ones that make me cringe and smile and laugh and think "oh my god, was that really me?" I can't imagine not having those pieces to look back on- I can't imagine what it would be like to have all of those little exchanges and communications via text only, here and gone in the blink of an eye. Maybe I'm just being a cranky "old" person waxing poetic for times gone by, but to me, note-writing is an art form of sorts, a lost art for sure, but something that shaped so many of our lives growing up. I sure love my technology now, but I'm also sure thankful that I have these tangible pieces of my adolescence to remind me of just how far I've come.