Ten years gone
by Matt Worley
A bottle of ten year old Aberlour Scotch Whiskey gave me a kick yesterday. A present from my roommate, I poured myself a double to sip through the night. I don't always contemplate the ten years a whiskey sits around in a cask, waiting to be drunk, but it was my birthday. Age and time and space were on my mind. I decided to drift along.
I was in college ten years ago. A senior, just starting my last year. I was working as a layout guy at the university paper, with time on the side as a cartoonist and music columnist. I was living with a bunch of guys my current roommate went to high school with. We were a gang, although in the year following, the gang would break rather severely. This, however, had not occurred yet.
I was seeing a girl I'd gone to high school with. But in my head, there were so many other girls out there, I couldn't contemplate just being with one. Soon after my 21st birthday, she decided not to put up with my shit anymore. It was only a few years later, especially when friends would bring her up, when I wondered if maybe I wasn't kind of an idiot to let her go. It doesn't haunt me, but it is there, reminding me of the impairment of being young. The belief that you can still do anything you want with no consequences.
Kurt Cobain was still alive. I'd spent a lot of my college years trying to channel another dead rock star: Jim Morrison. My generation had not gotten themselves a martyr yet--no matter how many drugs the guys in those glam bands took, none of them ever died. I did know about Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, but he wasn't big enough to be a martyr. He was a side note in the circus of the Seattle bands.
We were in a recession, although at the time, it didn't directly affect me. I worked for the university and got pay raises every six months (it was pennies, but it was automatic and I thought every job was like that). I was eternally broke all the time, so the fact that a lot of other people in the nation were broke didn't really change my world view. I'd have to graduate and look for a real world job before I realized what recessions were like.
And it was in this time when taxes were being raised. Bush Sr. went back on his "no new taxes" speech and raised some. Early on in Clinton's reign, he raised taxes as well. It helped to pull the government and eventually the nation out of the recession. Of course, we did end up in the Internet bubble, clouding everyone's minds with dreams of retiring at 30 or 40. All of us are in it for the long haul now, envisioning no social security and working until we get fired at 90 by a 17 year old running a down and out Micky Ds.
Ten years ago, I turned legal. I'd had to work until very late on my birthday (one in the morning), so I didn't go out that night. I went out with a few co-workers a night or two later, but we just had a shot (I coughed it down) and a beer. It took a while to get into the 21 groove. I'd buy booze at stores, but didn't go out to the clubs much because almost all of my friends were underage. I was just contributing to their delinquency.
Yesterday brought a blast to both the future and the past. I was in eighth grade when the Challenger blew up. I walked into third period band to hear people making jokes about it already. By the time the day was over, I knew the story. I heard a couple of loud booms (they sounded like sonic booms, possibly military exercises, since I live near an air force base) early in the morning yesterday. They woke me up. I took a piss and went back to bed. I found out later what they were. This event didn't scare me as much as seventeen years ago. I've grown up a bit since then. I don't get scared of much these days.
I'm not even scared of the upcoming war. I'm just disappointed. I'm disappointed so many people in power don't have the ability to look back to ten years ago. To see a bottle of scotch and think, "What was I doing with this puppy was born?" To contemplate this. To realize the reason a lot of people around the world and in this country think the US is going in the wrong direction. To understand why it is so wrong to change our national policy to pre-emptive action. To hold in reverence the lives of a few Americans, but to completely dismiss the lives of thousands and maybe millions of people who are not citizens of our country.
If I thought it would work, I'd send a bottle of ten year old scotch to the president, except he's a recovering alcoholic and wouldn't understand. It seems once he got sober, he lost the ability of hindsight--even with all of the old Republican guard in his administration. The only thing he seems to remember is some crazy guy tried to kill his dad once. And revenge is the only benefit history has.
I'll try to do a little better as I work this bottle down over the next few weeks or so. I'll try to understand the triumphs and the failures of the past. I'll try to have a little perspective. I'll try to do better.