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28 August 2016

Sunday question not from the Book of Questions: What was your life like 20 years ago? How did it compare to your life now?[More:]Inspired by a Facebook meme.
Twenty years ago I was 20 years old. I had completed two years of college without getting kicked out, despite being on academic probation. I was taking a year off to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, living at home and working full-time at Blockbuster as an assistant manager (with a stellar annual salary of $13,000!). My boyfriend of about a year was also living at home and working at Blockbuster. I know that some people didn't think that I would return to college, but I did after a year, this time moving in to an off-campus apartment with the aforementioned boyfriend.

Twenty years on, I am much happier and much more responsible. Married (to a different guy), two kids, lawyer. And Blockbuster is non-existent! I look back and realize that while I thought I was super mature, I was probably one of the more immature people my age.
posted by amro 28 August | 07:33
I was 17, had graduated from high school, and around this time was moving into my freshman dorm. Being a first gen college student and not knowing better, I managed to not schedule myself for a lunch the first semester. Never made that mistake again. Didn't gain the freshman 10 despite eating donuts every freakin' morning due to having to hustle across campus multiple times. Freshman year was probably my favorite year of the 4.

My daughter is (mostly) a delight and I'm looking forward to meeting my son so on the whole I'm pleased how things turned out.
posted by bluesapphires 28 August | 10:00
I was 20 years old as well, and in the 4th year of my undergrad degree (I skipped a grade or so as a kid). I was happily single, and sleeping with lots of dudes, heh, but I was soppily in love with one guy, who I couldn't be with for Reasons (although we did hook up quite a bit). It was a great year, actually, because I was sharing a house with my best friends, I was working hard at college, but I loved my degree and still had lots of time for fun.

Twenty years on, I'm happily married, one kid. Working in a field that my degree is useful for (yay). I don't have much time to have *lots* of fun, but I do have fun. I am still good friends with the guy I was in love with! He came to my wedding, 12 years ago, from London! He hooked up with my husband's ex-girlfriend, and there is some sort of lesson from that :)

Anyway, I like my life.
posted by gaspode 28 August | 11:09
1996 was easily one of the worst of my life so it's been all uphill from here. My wife announced that she was leaving for a co-worker on January 1st so that's how the year started. We had a six year old together and we started shared custody which did work eventually but was tough going to start with. I was in night school trying to finish my undergraduate computer science degree in my thirties and was working at an internship at a Fortune 500 company designed for a 19 year old for the princely sum of $8/hr and driving a dying Hyundai. Looking back, I'm amazed that I survived and eventually got my degree, started my career, started dating again and managed to (co)raise an awesome son.

Twenty years later, my wife and I just celebrated our 13th anniversary and I'm a pretty boring middle-aged software engineer.
posted by octothorpe 28 August | 11:32
In 1996 I was in a bad marriage, in a job I hated (family lawyer) and still three years away from getting sober. I was full of fear and self-loathing, trying to 'fix' things in my marriage by partying (yeah, that worked), without realising that I had to fix myself first. It was not a good time.

Related anecdote: In 1996 I had an affair with a guy I worked with. He was a notorious cocksman and slept with pretty much every woman in the office at some point. My (now-ex-) husband knew him through social things we went to and I was sure he knew about the affair, although nothing was ever said. My husband and I split up, finally, in 2001.

Anyway, I'm on much better terms with my ex-husband these days, and we were talking a few weeks ago about different people we both knew. "Whatever happened to that gay guy you worked with? You know, the one who lived in [place], supported X football team?"

I almost said "Are you kidding? He wasn't gay!" but instead I said "He's married now with two children." My ex was incredulous at this (to me, unsurprising) news. Clearly he'd been oblivious to my dalliance in 1996 (which in itself doesn't surprise me, as he was on drugs for most of our marriage).

My life today is so much better. Sober 17 and a half years, financially stable, but on the downside I'm divorced and unable (increasingly unwilling) to find a new relationship. I still struggle with self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy.

But I think I am a better person than I was twenty years ago. I have some really good friends who, it seems, care about me and who I count myself so lucky to know. To some extent the internet (which I didn't have in 1996) has been a life-saver for me. It's helped me connect with people who are, in their own ways, as odd as I am, and made me realise I'm not the only odd-bod out there. That's helped with self-acceptance.
posted by Senyar 28 August | 13:00
In 1996 I had been in Maine for two years and was dating the guy who would ultimately become Husband #2. I was working in government contracting and not really loving it, but I did at least get to work from home. I had a LOT of cats and my answering machine message (I miss answering machines) said that I was out buying cat food and would have to call you back. I had cable TV and a VCR. I used an AOL account for internetting. The Yankees won the World Series for the first time in 18 years. My parents were still alive.

Today, Husband #2 is now Ex-Husband #2. I may or may not turn current boyfriend into Husband #3. All those cats have gone to the Great Litterbox In The Sky, and I have two fresh ones. Now I work for the state legislature and it's about as dull as government contracting was. I just bought a smartphone and my voice mail is boringly generic. I just used a VPN blocker to watch the Olympics. The Yankees have not won the World Series since 2009. I'm out of parents.

I would say things are about the same in terms of contentment; I still do the same things for fun and even read a lot of the same books as then. I still enjoy good health but I have aches & pains now that I didn't have then. But I imagine that the older I get the more likely I will be to prefer the past, especially as people I care about are likely to keep dying. Such is life.
posted by JanetLand 29 August | 08:28
Great question! I'm glad I was sick on Friday and missed posting one then, as this is a better choice than I would have made.

20 years ago I was 38. I still though of myself as young, and I was just out of a terrible relationship with domestic violence. I had never married. The Red Sox had never won a World Series and I was resigned to that. I had ambitions for my current job, but hadn't gotten it. I was just about to meet my current husband of 19 years, but I had no faith I'd ever again meet anyone with whom I could be serious, because my bad relationship had wrecked my faith in my own judgment. My brother was living with me. My parents were both alive.

Now I am resigned to being an elderly person, if not so very old yet. My parents are both dead. I am in a solid marriage of 19 years to a man I adore. I have the job of my dreams. My home is in a different place, and I am happy in it. The Red Sox have TWO World championships behind them, and my Seahawks won the Super Bowl. I have high hopes for the Ms one of these days. I live in an Apple world. By and large, it is all better. I sure miss my folks, though.
posted by bearwife 29 August | 15:48
Interesting. I was 34, had a youngish family (my boys were 9 and 6 then). My job situation was unsettled; I was coming off a period of 4 layoffs in 5 years and had to move from Texas to Michigan to find work. We'd bought a house in Dearborn about 6 miles from my job, so it was a nice short commute, then was laid off and had to travel almost 40 miles each way every day.... through Detroit. By '96 I'd been laid off from that job I think and found one about half that distance, but the commute took me through the worst traffic in Detroit.

I didn't know it yet, but within six months time I'd be contacted by my old job in Texas and would be working out the logistics of moving back.

On the plus side, in Dearborn we had some wonderful neighbors- Dick and Dotty on one side; Dick was a Ford Motor Company retiree with every tool you can image who enjoyed helping out when he could (including getting me the employee discount on a new car). On the other side was Nona (as we called her), an Italian widow who loved our boys and watched them when we needed to go somewhere. Across the street was Jason, a policeman who got me out of a ticket or two. The neighborhood was classic 1950s vintage, with neighborhood school, a farmer's market within walking distance, and little parks in all directions. My wife used to walk the boys to school.

My wife was selling Pampered Chef kitchen gadgets and doing well with it. She would give that up when we moved.

There was a lot of stress though, and a lot of transition, with the move and the instability of the various jobs I tried to hold down. Also, my dad had recently passed away. And as idyllic as our neighborhood was, Dearborn, and Detroit in general, was kind of a cliquish area where we always felt like outsiders (especially my wife).

We have stress now, but it's mostly the stress of being busy. My wife's teaching job keeps her busier than it probably should, and we could really use another person or two in my department. I asked for help just today, and the management gave my request a not-quite-lukewarm response. My goal is to hang around for another 10 years or so until I can retire. It's not a career so much anymore, just a job I do, biding my time.

But all in all, life is good. I feel settled in who I am, even if I'm not entirely satisfied.

Twenty years? Hmph. It goes by fast.
posted by Doohickie 01 September | 21:41
I love reading these, great question!

I was 15, and I was living in suburban Boston at home with my little sister and my parents who were fighting all the time and soon to divorce.
I was really into folk music, sculpting, calligraphy, and running. I was also trying to adopt hippie stylings and beliefs which is funny in retrospect because I was also such a fiery ball of anger and intolerance then.
Everything was frustrating and everyone was disappointing in their hypocrisy and betrayals. I had very lofty ideals and standards for myself and my friends and family and everyone (including me) fell short of them and I was just so mad about it.

I never would have guessed that I would be living in NYC with twins and a job in software. I was going to move to the mountains in Maine and live off the land in my forest cabin while also saving the rest of the environment and making art! hahahahaha
I often think about how teen-me would view now-me, and how now-me would view teen-me and neither is particularly flattering. I am still getting over some of my 20's embarrassment about who I used to be, and trying to embrace the teen version of myself.
posted by rmless2 02 September | 10:39
Weekend plans 3-point bulletin || Store meeting this morning. Snarking away....