25 Years Later

I’m taking a break from packing, cleaning and rubbing in tan-in-a-bottle to post this morning. While the dishwasher and clothes dryer hum away, I’m busy getting ready to go to my husband’s 25th high school reunion.

I also graduated in 1989, but to be quite honest, I don’t remember a dad-blamed thing about my senior year. All I really remember is how high I’d sprayed my bangs, and how it took a gazillion bobby pins to hold that mortarboard on the back of my head (because flat on top–ugh! It would have squashed my hair!)

Do you know what I do remember about 25 years ago?

‘Course not. But I’m gonna tell you.

I remember the footage of the Berlin Wall coming down. I remember the crowds. I remember David Hasselhoff standing on the crumbling wall, singing “You’re the Voice” (which Heart also covered. Or maybe David covered Heart. Hard to say). I may actually be conflating two different events, but I’m not sure…because, you know…25 years!

I remember being a bit sad and resentful. Not six months earlier, I’d been to and through that wall. In my rural Missouri hometown I’d never seen graffiti like the West Berlin side of the wall–such an explosion of color, words and art. And on our day trip to East Berlin, I’d marveled at the contrast. The concrete was clean and bare. The streets were clean and bare. A couple meters of concrete and what seemed to be two completely different cultures. If only they’d gotten to it sooner, I complained. If only I could have been dancing to David Hasselhoff while hundreds of people broke off chunks of concrete.

Because I’d ended up in a direct swap on my exchange program, the German boy who’d stayed with my folks while I was abroad came back to visit some months after the fall of the Wall. He gave Dad a blue/green painted chunk of concrete, which gathers dust in my parents’ basement to this day. At least I have that.

What about you? Have you ever had a near-miss with history? Or were you ever privileged to bear witness to the stories we now print in our children’s textbooks?