Gosh, I loved the 80s.
Those were the years I came of age, and I embraced everything about the era—the big hair, the big combs, the big shoulder pads, the neon colors, and Madonna’s fingerless gloves. Bands like Kajagoogoo, Duran Duran and Wham! provided the soundtrack of my adolescence, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. Molly Ringwald and Tom Cruise were my cinematic heroes, and shows like Magnum P.I., Miami Vice and The Cosby Show were “must-see TV.”
Flashback to 1983: I was a junior in high school, my hair was permed and cut into an almost-mullet, I was working in a toy store at the mall during the Cabbage Patch Kids craze, I had just started dating my first real boyfriend, and life was fun and good. Even so, one scary fear darkened the back of most of our minds back then. We were all dancing our life away to Prince’s “1999,” singing: “Everybody’s got a bomb, we could all die any day,” just as the Cold War was reaching a fever pitch between the USSR and the USA. The threat of nuclear war was real, and we knew it.
So last week, when I heard our President threaten North Korea with the phrase, “fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen,” it immediately thrust me back to that time–specifically, to the way I felt after the made-for-TV movie event that scared the crap out of me and the rest of America: “The Day After.” I don’t remember much about it, except that it starred Jason Robards, it focused on the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the United States, and it shook everyone to the core — even President Reagan. I couldn’t sleep for weeks after that movie aired. And likewise, I haven’t slept very well during the past week.
I’ve never been a person to worry much. I am an optimist at heart and I always try to look for the bright side and the silver lining in every situation. I can usually comfort myself by putting things into perspective with an old cliché like, “It’s not the end of the world.” But…what if it is?
I’m trying hard not to go there in my mind, even as it feels like our country is careening toward World War III with increasing speed and certainty. Perhaps I am overreacting; I sure hope that I am, and that, like some people have an unfounded fear of snakes or heights, I just have an unfounded fear of nuclear annihilation. But no one that I’ve talked to about this has been able to offer any real words of comfort to alleviate my anxiety. It seems there is a new crisis brewing every single day, and no one knows what tomorrow will bring.
So I’m trying to squash this anxiety on my own. I figure writing about it and putting it out in the open here might help. I’m also praying, hard, for peace — both in the world and in my own mind. I’ve never needed anxiety meds, but now might be the time to start. And meanwhile, to lighten my mood, I’ve taken to listening to another classic hit from the 80s, this one by R.E.M.: