While doing a little research for yesterday’s blog, I came across something utterly fascinating to about 27 of us, but fascinating nonetheless: UNC STV’s “Video Yearbook” for 1986-87. I had no idea such a thing existed, so out of morbid curiosity, I clicked ‘PLAY’ and was instantly transported back to the Reagan administration.
I had an “ambient recognition” of so many faces I’d seen while at school, without knowing who any of them were. After all, there were 22,000 of us, and I was still a 19-year-old whelp, still a year shy of writing the column, and two years shy of losing my virginity. Just finding my classrooms was a big victory.
And suddenly, at the 16:09 mark, out of thousands of people, I saw myself at 19 looking directly into my eyes at 44:
Many years back I wrote a script where a woman was able to time travel to any point in the past as long as she had an analog cassette tape recording of that moment. She was able to “ride the ambient noise of the background” to that specific time, and inhabit her old body with her present mind.
When I saw this 2-second bit of old videotape last night at 3am, I swear to god I almost did the same. I remember the smell of the dogwoods mixed with the pungency of the Everclear PJ they mixed for the Trader Vic’s party at Chi Psi. I looked behind me and saw the hot-tub-in-a-trailer we had hired for the event, where my now-brother-in-law Jon and I wound up a few hours later:
with Debbie Fox-Currier and Amy Jennings – where are you ladies, anyway?
The kicker? That party was exactly 25 years ago Saturday. I shan’t bore you with the rest of my twee nostalgic mindscaping, but if you went to UNC at any point between 1985 and 1988 – or want to see how short certain short pants were – these three videos will do the trick (not to mention some of you are in them).
All of us have plenty of pictures of people – your kids, your parents, your friends – buttressed by the occasional shot of an unsatisfying sunset. Look at the albums on Facebook, and they’re pretty much all humans taking pictures of other humans (and dogs). But it’s the odd photo of our surrounding stuff that always fascinated me.
our triple dorm room that year, 407 Grimes
I always take a quick shot of any room I’ve lived in, partly because I know they tend to be interesting later, and partly so I can yell “THERE’S THAT FUCKING SHIRT!”
When Jon, Chip and I lived in the room above, we found an old exam schedule taped to the back of the bureau at the far right of the picture. It was from 1955, and listed exams for Saturday classes, the idea of which we found reprehensible. But we had no idea how things operated day-to-day in 1955, no sense of how they actually lived in that room, how they ate, where they spent their lives when they weren’t taking stiff black-and-white pictures.
For some of you, that 1987 video may be more boring than watching grout cure, but it does two things for me: it offers a quotidian glimpse into what normal life was like for us, if only for the shots of cobbling the school newspaper together with hot glue, and watching students buy that horrible taco salad they used to serve at Lenoir.
It also reminds me of the whizzing vectors of our timelines, and how so many of us were together in the same place for just a bit, and how goddamn fantastic it is when it happens again.
my hair did that naturally, and continues to do so, thanks