The Power of the Collective Experience

My husband was born thirteen days after me in the fall of 1977.  Unlike most people my age, he actually graduated from high school in 1995, a year ahead of the pack, just like I did. We lived on the same floor of Letts Hall freshman year of college, and his entire extended family lived just over an hour from my childhood home.

I thought we shared a collective experience, two kids growing up in the 80’s in America.  And then I found out he never owned a Nintendo NES.

What is it about sharing a collective experience that draws people together?  When I found out that my husband didn’t spend his childhood summer days negotiating a Duck Hunt trade for The Legend of Zelda, I was shocked.  Who was this man that I married?

Somehow having an answer to things such as “Where were you during the Challenger disaster?” and “What Thermos lunchbox did you carry?” brings us together placing us instantly on a common ground.  I love that I have an older brother who remembers the same childhood experiences that I do as well as a sister-in-law who was right there with us starting when I was eleven.  When my kids stand in front of Cinderella’s Castle watching fireworks together, I know that someday they’ll talk about those moments in the Magic Kingdom with each other and feel connected by those shared memories.

What is the one thing from your own childhood that immediately takes you back and connects you to the people around you?

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  • april yedinak

    I was born in 73, so anything 80’s like ‘Flashdance’, jelly bracelets and Cabbage Patch dolls reminds me of being a kid and anything 90’s like ‘Friends’, grunge music and matte makeup with pale faces and dark lips reminds me of college and early adulthood. Sad to say, most of my friends are way older or younger, so they don’t get the things that tickle me, like references to Chinese Jacks or someone acting like a ‘Brenda’.

    • Amy

      Jelly bracelets! And Jelly shoes!

  • I grew up in suburban Atlanta in the late 70s early 80s. We have moved further out of Atlanta over the years, and frequently we will run into folks who also lived in Dekalb county in that era. After asking what high school they went to, the next questions are: Did you cruise Memorial Drive? Did you hang out at Oz Records and Tapes? Did you go to Stone Mountain on Sunday afternoons? These were all things that teens did in our area during that time! Nice to reminisce with those who have been “there”!
    Very cool post Amy!

    • Amy

      I grew up in a small town and we all have little things like that, too, that keep us connected after all of these years.

  • I totally collected all sorts of stuff lol-Smurf figurines(don’t laugh ha), buttons(not the kind from a shirt), stickers, etc.

    I also collected Garbage pail kids cards lol

    It is amazing how little things can trigger such great memories..I even remember the “new coke” fiasco lol

    But since you asked for ONE thing..I’d have to say it was my record player..It was the kind that was portable that snapped closed and it played 45’s haha..Boy am I dating myself:) I used to have a huge collection of 45’s and albums..Not many left now!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane today!!

    • Amy

      Joey, I STILL have my Garbage Pail Kids cards. But not the gum. GROSS!

  • Oh and speaking of the Challenger, I was in my sophomore World History class with Coach McKoy when they turned on the t.v.! I’ll never forget it!

    • Amy

      Would it upset you to know that I was in third grade at the time?

      • ROFL! yes! haha-I knew you were young;)

        I’m just young at heart & thankfully, most people think I’m younger lol

  • I still have my collection of Garbage Pail Kids cards. Anyone remember pogs? I had jelly shoes. I even have a couple Cabbage Patch dolls that my boys use when they pretend to be Daddies.

    Amy if you and your husband are ever in our area, you’re more than welcome to come over and play a game or two on our Nintendo NES. Although, you’ll have to share any Legend of Zelda knowledge with our 6 year old. He’s been playing that game and just struggling. But watch out when you play Duck Hunt with him cause he’s got terrific aim. And he’s already found the wrap whistles and knows when to use them.

    • Amy

      The last time I tried the old NES at my parents’ house, it worked! The next time I’m up there I may pull out the gold Legend of Zelda myself 🙂

  • Cool! haha @ the gum!

  • I put that cool reply under your comment..hmmm lol

    Btw, let’s don’t even bring up Atari ROFL! I will be dating myself then!!

    • and it brings back memories of Atari everytime Cee Lo Green mentions it in his song;)ha

  • […] actually more likely to stay home with my family.  But there is something magical to me about the power of the collective experience. I’ve blogged about it in the past as it relates to my husband who seemed like a stranger to […]