When I was in elementary school, I had a wall of clippings from magazines. Actually just from the Times Magazine Kids edition.
The Era of Awe: 1995-2000
Everyone says childhood is a time of fairy dust and magic, to me, it was an age of the wonder and discovery. My wall was a mosaic of tributes to the construction of the International Space Station, discovery of fossilized eggs and feathered dinosaurs in Asia, Mars Pathfinder’s first images of our neighboring planet, Jane Goodall’s life and discoveries among the prides of Africa, the cloning of Dolly, Nelson Mandela’s release, Gandhi’s quote “be the change you wish to see in the world”. I got to go to the national lab at Berkeley during their yearly open house and a poster of their Cyclotron joined my collection. Little did I know, it’s description of how to smash atoms together to reveal the mysteries of the nucleus would hold significance in the next decade of my life.
When I started writing this, I had thought the change occurred at the epoch most think of: 9/11. But really the birth of a nation wrapped in fear, the death of awe and wonder started a few years prior. I remember vaguely the death of Princess Diana and the condemnation of those who did nothing, more vividly the anxiety of India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapon tests, becoming afraid of cow meat, confused on what could lead someone to commit the Columbine shooting, and the yearlong insecurity of whether or not Y2K would crash our economy and the world as we knew it.
I remember my early childhood, playing in the streets, garage doors left open as neighbors gazed on, front doors left unlocked and open. I remember not being afraid of running down the street two blocks over to see if my best friend was around. I remember garage doors coming down, windows blinds now always drawn. I remember being told I had to call to make sure they were home before I headed out and to call again when I had arrived two streets away. I remember streets emptying of children and friendly neighbors. And then there was the tragedy. Continue reading “Life Changes”