Friday, November 5, 2010

Back to the Future?

This week, one Stanley
has decided to leap into the future and another is diving into the past. Let me elucidate...

When I was a communications major at Temple University, one of my journalism professors (who I happened to have a crush on...but I digress) was also an editor at my local daily newspaper. He got me a job in the summer of 1990 as a freelance writer, or "stringer." Being an overeager journalist-in-the-making, I took whatever assignment they'd throw my way, even if it meant working every weekend. Which it did. Being a small paper, many times I was the only person in the newsroom during my shift. One afternoon, a staff photographer I'd never met came into the newsroom, told me his car battery was dead and asked if I could give him a jump start. I didn't have cables...but I did end up jumping him several months later. Or he ended up jumping me, depending on whose side of the story you believe. One thing lead to another, and 20 years later we've got two kids, a mortgage and 9-year-old car with the "check engine" light constantly on.

While I left the paper eons ago, he's been working there in various capacities for 22 years. Until now.

Early this week, my husband was offered a job with the newspaper's parent company and will be leaving The Reporter's newsroom. He's worked there longer than it takes a person to be born, educated and become of legal drinking age. For the first time since 1988, there won't be a Stanley working at the local paper.

Strike that.

On the same day corporate offered him his new position, the paper's editor asked me if I'd be willing to come back part-time for a little while and help out while an employee was on disability. With Christmas right around the corner, and Apple products on someone's wishlist, I naturally agreed. So as my husband is packing up his desk of 22 years, I'll be sitting down to do the exact same job I left 15 years ago. Walking into that newsroom, with a new computer system I've never used, is going to be like 1990 all over again. Except this time I'm not the fresh-faced 20-something in a room full of seasoned staffers...I'm a good decade-plus older than most of their current writers. God, that's depressing.

All this got me thinking about how much all the little things have changed since 1990, and whether I'd pick the current over the past.

Lansdale itself looks extremely different. The elaborate and ornate Hotel Tremont that once welcomed folks into town and dominated Broad and Main for more than 100 years was razed to make way for our new centerpiece, a butt-ugly Rite Aid. Welcome to Lansdale ~ you want child-proof caps? Other landmarks are gone. Restaurants have opened, closed, reopened, reclosed and then become credit unions. "I Got It At Gary's" became Vidilia, Vidalia became Food Town. Parking meters cropped up like Main Street weeds. But a farmer's market, Oktoberfest and killer pub compensate, somewhat. Still, I think I'd take 1990 Lansdale's backdrop. Today, we just look like every other pharmacy-riddled Philly burb.

I myself look pretty different. 1990 Suzanne had really really long, thick, awesome hair. 2010 Suze has the post-kids, thinner, shoulder-length "mommy" thing going on. Too old for the "Grab my ponytail and drag me to your cave, Thag!" look. 1990 Suzanne was also 80 pounds heavier than 2010 Suze, however. So go ahead, keep the hair 1990. Reading glasses, blood pressure medicine and the one varicose vein aside, I think I actually prefer 2010 Suze. She's more interesting and seasoned than 1990 Suzanne. She's got a killer tattoo. And a secret wild side that only a lucky (?) few know about. When she's not depressed or dieting, she can rock.

That photographer I told you about? Well, the jerk looks almost exactly the same in 2010 as he did in 1990. (We've been together 20 years, so I can use the term "jerk" as an expression of affection.) Despite the fact that he has WAY more gray hairs than me (I have five. I counted), as I'm getting the insultingly polite "Ma'am" on occasion, HE still gets carded on occasion at the state store. On one photo assignment not too long ago, someone actually asked him what school newspaper he worked for. Obviously, they were drunk and/or myopic.

I may have rambled a bit, as people of my advanced age sometimes tend to do. I'm not even sure what the original point of this belated blog was, but I'm going with this: Times change, and like it or not, you've gotta roll with 'em. Hopefully that means taking a giant, risky leap forward. Sometimes it means taking a necessary, temporary step backward. Buildings, jobs, pounds and hairlines come and go, but what keeps us young is the company and attitudes we keep. There you go. I think.

By the way, I'm only 37 and will deny any age to the contrary.

And if you happen to see a reprinting of this blog entry in a future issue of "Cooks Source" magazine...please let me know.

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