August Blogging Challenge: Day 21 – Twenty-One

At first, I thought this was going to be really hard. What was so special about being 21 that I’d remember it?

I turned 21 on June 8, 1987. Yeah, so what? Big year?

My daughter, being a teenager, pointed out that I was old enough to drink. Which is a story in itself, because when I was growing up in New York (way back in the olden days, kids), the drinking age was 18. In fact, my brother had a huge party at my house on his prom night in 1981 and there was beer on ice in kiddie pools. The following year, the Legislature made the drinking age 19. A few years later, they raised the drinking age to 21 in the very year I turned 19. I was legally able to drink for almost six months, but there was no “grandfather” clause, so as of midnight on December 1st, all of us who were nineteen and legal were no longer able to drink. Pity my poor friend Vinny, born on November 30th, legal for all of 24 hours.

So yes, turning 21 meant that I was once again legal. Because I had been very responsible for six months, and then totally irresponsible for eighteen months, and then responsible again for the rest of my life. Idiots.

I started to think about 1987. Then it hit me.

I graduated from college in December of 1987. Because of the fact that I had taken a bunch of A.P. (advanced placement) classes in high school, I finished early and graduated at the end of the fall semester. Graduating in December is very odd. Everyone else is just going home for the long winter break; you are looking for a job and an apartment. There’s no cap-and-gown ceremony — the history department had a little convocation for the, like, five of us who were moving on — although you’re welcome to come back in May when everyone else walks. But by then, you’re already living your “real” life and going back to campus seems pointless and stupid.

In February of 1988, Jeff and I moved into our first apartment. He had also graduated mid-year, and when he got his first job, we went off to Flemington, New Jersey, together. I got a job as a word processor in a law firm on Main Street — yes, they still had dedicated word processors then, and the secretaries all used typewriters — and then went to law school at Rutgers that fall (but by then I was 22).  We adopted kittens from a shelter in April, the late, great Woody and Spike, and made wonderful friends, some of whom are still our close friends today.

So, yeah. Twenty-one was a big year for me.

And that’s even before I get to this:

Billboard’s Hot 100 List for 1987

Billboard’s Hot 100 List for 1988

So many of the songs on the lists brought back instantaneous memories. For example, U2’s “With Or Without You” immediately makes me think of my husband blasting his CD of “The Joshua Tree” so that you could hear it across the quad (thankfully, my room faced the other way) and singing at the top of his lungs. Constantly. “Luka” makes me think of a girl from college that, to this day, can still set my teeth on edge. “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel takes me back to the visual of his face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine which I picked up and read in the basement of the Student Union while I was working with a group on a project (well, clearly I wasn’t working very hard at that moment). Steve Winwood’s songs remind me of sitting on the front porch of Jeff’s sister’s apartment in Albany drinking wine coolers. “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS ended up on our wedding video a couple of years later. And two Crowded House songs just makes me happy, because most of the music on these lists is just crap.

Any great memories from these lists of songs? Or from the year you turned twenty-one?

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One Response to August Blogging Challenge: Day 21 – Twenty-One

  1. Sarah says:

    So, when I turned 21, I had just been back in the states for a month after having grown up in Israel and was only visiting the colleges I had been accepted into for the first time. I was learning to drive and to live in a house as a “grown up” child with my dad, step-mom and brother. College was a much easier obstacle to navigate then home life! Everyone I met thought I was SSOOOOO INTERESTING just because I had been in the IDF for the obligatory two years, had a curious hard to identify accent and had zero interest in being able to drink even though I was just about the only freshman who could buy alcohol legally. That was me at 21.
    Song: U2’s gospel version of “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” quickly became my top choice to listen to on my Walkman while warming up at track meets.

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