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The World Has Turned And Left Me Here
It started innocently enough by reading the YouTube comments underneath highlight videos of 90s basketball. If you follow sports at all then you can make a pretty educated guess as to what they said. These commenters reveled in the type of basketball that used to exist—full of big, burly men all clogged under the basket and absolutely no 3-point shooting. They were unabashed in their belief that these videos represented the golden age and that today only represents everything wrong with the sport. They just wanted to go back to that. Comments like these have tended to make me mad, even at times when I agree. There’s nothing cornier than crying about what was instead of enjoying what is. I’ve learned not to be so annoyed lately though. See the thing about those people constantly arguing about some imaginary golden era: it isn’t really about basketball or whatever other activity. They don’t pine for the old days as much as they just miss who they were at that time. They’re in mourning for when they watched the world with youthful ignorance and through fresh eyes before becoming withered and irrelevant. The world has turned and left them there.
Here’s what I remember about my own youth. I was almost aggressively quiet and bashful in school. So much so that in order to get the angst and aggression of that age out of my system I had to take it out on my sisters at home and the church groups I was part of. I mostly disappeared into music—letting the artists verbalize my feelings for me. I loved 2pac and everything he stood for, which made me want to stand for my own things. I was into Blink-182 and their freewheeling juvenilia that created a religious fervor in me and every immature teenager. I listened to a lot of rap and R&B because I had a lot of feelings. I listened to a lot of emo because I had too many feelings. But in high school, no CD spent more time in my Walkman and then eventually my car’s multi-disk stereo than Weezer’s 1994 self-titled debut, lovingly referred to as The Blue Album.
To this day, I’m not completely certain how I became such a big Weezer person. I’m sure that my Blink fandom pushed me to look for other bands even tangentially related to them. I also a pop culture historian, anxious to learn every significant influence within the emo genre. Nevertheless, out of a small rotation of albums I listened to constantly including ATLiens, College Dropout, Confessions, Daydream, and Food & Liquor, The Blue Album reigned supreme. The hooks were intense sugar-levels of irresistible, the lyrics were earnest and unabashedly vulnerable, and for a power-pop band, they really thrashed. “My Name Is Jonas” had that Pixies-quiet, quiet loud song structure. “In The Garage” tapper into the unconscious memories of playing with toys with your siblings or classmates. There were barbershop Doo-Wop, playground hopscotch tunes, psychedelic noise rock, and to cap it off “Only In Dreams.” A lengthy, gorgeous, kiss-after-a-school-dance magical song. If there was one song I felt the most attuned with though, it was “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here.” It was a song about breaking up but for me it captured my feelings of being ignored and alone. A mostly self-imposed exile of mine because I felt to scared to let anyone know who I was for fear of rejection. I had the distinct feeling that the world and my life was just passing me by.
I didn’t know it yet, but the world really was passing me buy. Just as it is passing you by. One minute you’re 17, getting to know your hometown better by aimlessly driving around it all day; the next you’re 31 wishing you could do anything that would inspire that same bliss of childish discovery. The refrain do you believe what I say now from “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” bounces through my head constantly. It taunts, reminding me of every adult who warned me this day was inevitable as I took my prime for granted. Maybe youth really is wasted on the young. It feels like it happened in an instant, probably because it did. Time is relative after all.
There is something painful about irrelevance. In many ways, you have the whole world in front you after about age 30 and finally know what you should do with it. The passion isn’t the same, nor is the endurance. You get comfortable in the same spots; reality has crushed you enough to not really want to fight it. You think maybe becoming your dad isn’t so bad, maybe you can even do it better and hope that seeing through your child’s eyes will restore some of those old feelings you remember too well. It probably won’t though, so instead you complain about culture now and lay the blame on those shoulders. Sure you’re just yelling into the void but by this point in life you’re accustomed to doing that. The world has turned and left you here.