Had a young friend over to the house to help me with finishing the painting and some other odds and ends so that the house could be truly considered as “Show-ready” and during one of our mutually needed breaks we sat and talked. We started talking about the differences in our ages and what that meant to each of us in our growing years. I let him talk and then shared my points of view with him. He looked at me after I was done and asked if I shared this with anyone and that if I didn’t, that I should – no further prodding needed. Here is how it went:
Growing up as a young boy on Aruba during the ‘fifties’ was a joy that was not considered that at the time. In fact, I thought it was all sort of normal, so the wonderment of youth did not come into the picture. During that time, Aruba was intimate. It was hot, dusty windy and intimate. People talked to each other more than they do today. Today, we wave at each other from car windows or nod heads as we walk by friends. Then- there was less to occupy our time. The busyness was not there so that when we passed each other by, we stopped, talked, laughed or made appointments to meet and talk and laugh. It was a time of safety and assuredness. Children played at neighbors houses until dark and the parents called on large black phones hanging on a wall to let the other parents know that their child was there. Often, I was told that my parents had been contacted and that I would be sleeping there that night. I cannot remember the word “Sleep-over” in my vocabulary. In fact, Sleep-over is a planned thing. We just stayed where we were or not. Sometimes we would plan to go to a friend’s house for a few days but we never “Slept-Over”. I remember my mom leaving a set of my pajamas with my best friend’s mother just in case I slept there. Now that might seem like splitting hairs but it was so very different. We played and if it got late, we showered, put on the PJs and went to sleep with intentions of continuing whatever it is we were doing at the time when we woke up. Today, my son has Sleep overs. Friends plan, they organize and bring bags with toothbrushes and deodorant. Not the same. Not by a long shot, however life changes and like the old saying goes, “It is what it is.”
As I got older, there were times when I would have lunch at a friends. We would play, wash up, get our hands inspected to see if we had done a good job and then we would sit with the hosting family and have a lovely and intimate mid-day meal. In this world, we ask each other to “Do Lunch.” Again, a difference, subtle but different. I would not have known how to do lunch. My parents would not have known either. Lunch was a ritual, an event and a time of eating and talking and not being told to not talk at the dinner table. IN fact, not talking would have brought on someone asking if there was something wrong. Lunch was an experience and a sharing. Not an opportunity for business or to get caught up on what’s happening. We knew what was happening, hell, there were only 50,000 people here and most talked to each other sometime during the week. The web of communications was what it was that held us together. People knew each other because they liked each other. If you didn't, you stayed away. Pretty simple I think.
I hear about “Networking.” In today’s world, networking is what we do to stay on the good side of a bunch of people that may be of some use to us in the course of life. It decides who you play golf with. After all, you never know how much you can learn from a guy out there while on the 18 holes of life. It makes me wonder if we ever ask ourselves if we are being “networked”, just a thought. I had friends because they were my friends. Over simplified? - no – just a fact. After all why would I have a friend if he weren't a friend. Made sense to me then and still does. I would hate to have a friend I didn’t like just because he could serve my needs some day. Yet… we do.
Another slight difference is that for the longest time, it was nice to admire the things that your friends had and would share. That is a great way to go about things I think. Today, it is often quite the opposite. We are told what others have by them; like: I just bought a boat. I just got a dingaling or some other possession. These are the peeing poles of social structure. It is what gives us stature. What we have. Nope – I liked it simpler. Aruba was simpler as I am sure your towns were. So I have to ask myself, “Why change something that works so well?” Without a doubt, I feel sure that there is a good answer to that question. In the meantime, our children “do sleep-over’s” and all the while we adults “Do lunch” in conspicuous places where we are sure to “network.”
So there you have it. As far as I am concerned, I liked Aruba better when it was intimate, hot, dusty and windy. People talked to each other and life was a bit simpler that it seems to be today. Yet taking all of that into consideration, Aruba is where I want to be, perhaps need to be. It is where I am reminded of purity and not of the things that tend to complicate life.
Made me think of simpler times in my life too. It was a lot like that when I was younger too. In the summertime, we would go out and play as soon as my mom would let us out the door. Lunch would also be wherever you were and there were many nights spent at friends houses. The best time of our lives - unfortunately we didn't realize it at the time. Always wanted to grow up and be able to "do things". My best friends to this day are the kids I hung around with back then. I'm still friends with a girl from my neighborhood and my first friend in kindergarten. One of the good things about Facebook is it has allowed me to reconnect with many friends I had lost touch with over the years. Thank you for reminding me of " the good old days."
per usual excellent reading....and gives us much food for thought.
and how things in our lives have changed.
we all read your words and most, if not all, of your words are of aruba....but we who are not aruban, can always visualize our lives where we grew up, and your words can be about our lives.
pretty much the same......just a little colder