Social distancing makes us rediscover long forgotten tasks and things. Yesterday, I went on a trip down memory lane when I looked through old photo albums.
Some things have changed drastically. Others survived the course of time. Climate change was really obvious when I went through all the pictures. When I was a child, we had plenty of snow in December. There are pictures of us children making snowmen, ice skating on the pond and picturesque landscapes covered in half a meter or more of snow. When I think about the past ten, fifteen years, I cannot remember any December with that much snow. Christmas has become notoriously warm with about 15 degrees. It feels more like Easter than Christmas. Sometimes, we get a lot of snow in January. But the last white Christmas must have been in the late 90s. It is definitely not comparable to all the white Christmases during my childhood.
Ugly fashion trends have, unfortunately, definitely survived. Why can we not celebrate the beautiful, glamorous and feminine styles? No, we choose to resurrect the carrot trousers and white sneakers paired with white socks. In primary school I hated cycling shorts. I was a bit chubby and I always thought they just make me look even worse. Still, I had them in trendy colours such as bright turquoise or yellow. Seeing them back on the runways just makes me cringe. There was also what we called the “carrot jeans”, which was tight at the ankles but quite loose at the top. Again, something I really hated and seeing them being sold again under labels such as “mom jeans” is something I really do not understand. And please do not get me going on the fanny packs!
I will not comment on my lack of style during my teenage years. It seems that I lived in denim – jeans paired with a jeans jacket in a completely different colour and denim fabric – and sneakers. I remember I had those red sneakers which I thought were amazing because they matched my Eastpack-backpack. We were a very tight-knit group of friends and my 16-year-old self would have never anticipated moving abroad. I went to France twice to do a language course – or rather get the chance to go on holidays with my friends. I remember my parents pushing me to spend a semester or year abroad. But I did not want to leave my friends for a year in America. (Imagine a long sigh here.) Secretly, I was dreaming about moving abroad – I had a CD-Rom (for all those who can’t remember, the predecessor of the USB) with pictures of the most famous sights in America, my room was decorated with Indian blankets, pillows and silverware and most of my costumes from carnival were outfits like the Qipao, the traditional Chinese dress with stand-up collar, or a flamenco dress.
I soon regretted not going abroad for a while and, hence, decided to spend a semester in China at university to make up for the lost opportunity. And this is how the ball started rolling. But still, I always thought it would only be for a short period of time, maximum one or two years, before I move back to Vienna permanently.
I also rediscovered my first flight ever: to Portugal in 1990. Air travel was a luxury then. In Austria, going on holiday by car was the norm – it was either domestic trips or to the nearby beaches in Italy. Air travel was also much more exciting than it was now – no plastic cutlery but “real” cutlery sets, more space and I remember those sticker sets where you could re-stick and move the planes. And, most importantly, children were allowed to visit the cockpit! I am aware that I was a child and that was probably a reason why it was more exciting and special. But this was before the discount tickets and before mass tourism got as extreme as it has been in the past five to ten years.
At this point in time, I was scared of the sea. I hated the sand in my toes and it took me almost a week to dare to jump into the swimming pool. If you had seen this child, you would probably have never expected that the beach has become one of my favourite destinations and that I started scuba diving twenty years later.
Going through fashion faux-pas, crazy hairstyles and all these memorable moments from the past really made me laugh. One thing which, unfortunately, disappeared is the good old photo album. Remember when we had to wait for the photos to be developed and see how they turned out, then stick them into the album and write some witty comments by hand? Maybe I need to get back into making photo books. Or I just print out some pictures and stick them into albums again. Might be another fun activity during social distancing…
Have a nice week ahead!