May 1, 2015

Carolyn Smuts: "Thirty Years Gone"

Freelance writer Carolyn Smuts taught history at the college level before fleeing academic life to write fiction. Her work has been featured in SELF, Glamour, Creative Living, Ultimate Motorcycling, and Business Week. Her most recent fiction works were published by Akashic Books, Omnific, and Jitter Press. She lives in Los Angeles.

Thirty Years Gone

My nostalgic flashbacks are becoming more frequent and more troubling to me as time passes. I was at the McNevin's tonight.  They have a son who is a junior in high school, the same school I went to—that we all went to. It's the beginning of Homecoming Week which always kicks off with a big Sunday night bonfire.

Tonight’s bonfire "sparked" conversation about 1980s stuff, of course. Thirty-plus years later and we are still telling the same stories. 

Then I was driving home, listening to the 80s channel on Sirius/XM. They were running down the Top 40 hits from this week in 1980 which was the beginning of my sophomore year. As I drove on the blacktop into Kenston, I wondered how many times I had heard those songs on that very road going home, first on the school bus and then in my own car.

It was homecoming week about this time that year, too. I recall it vividly because on a Saturday we started building the sophomore class homecoming parade float. John Bonham had croaked just a day or two earlier and that made it a Led Zeppelin tribute week. For some reason, I have a very specific memory of What Is and What Should Never Be playing in tribute.

Now Ten Years Gone plays, but in reality, it’s more than thirty years gone and I have no new stories. I’m listening to Bonham on the drums as I drive home to the same town and I don't know whether to be happy or sad.

~Carolyn Smuts

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