I remember being 10, do you? It’s when memories start to have real traction and you can recount the details that make distant memories still alive.
I turned 10 the year we entered a new decade, the 80s. Life then was all about living on rollerskates every free minute that I wasn’t in school, skating around in circles in my basement to Donna Summer, Blondie and the Jackson Five.
I begged my mom for Jordache and Sasson jeans, Nike sneaks tricked out with the fattest color laces you can find and knee high tube socks with 3 stripes, not two. I also wore a lot of feathers, brightly colored and on clips that we attached to our hair. They were actually roach clips, but I didn’t know that at the time. Another must-have accessory was the braided satin headband in all sorts of colors. Depending on my mood, I would wear them on my head or hang 2 around my neck as necklaces.
I was obsessed with Different Strokes and the Facts of Life, but my favorite TV show hands down was What’s Happening. I thought Duane falling down on his skateboard during opening credits was the funniest thing ever. I had a little crush on Duane; I really liked his afro.
When Solid Gold came on in the Fall, I became obsessed with that too and watched it along with Soul Train and American Bandstand. I didn’t want to be one of the Solid Gold dancers, but I was mesmerized by them at least until we started mocking them as we grew into snotty teenagers. In my basement, I would choreograph dance numbers to “Fame” by Irene Cara.
My favorite songs of 1980 were “Upside Down” by Diana Ross and “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson. Then I heard “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar and that kind of blew my mind.
In 1980 I played with Weebles (they don’t fall down!) and Ker-bangers (also known as Clackers). I can’t tell you how many times I would hit and bruise my arm on that thing, even hitting myself in the eye a few times. Maybe that’s why they were banned in the mid 80s, or maybe I was just a super uncoordinated and clumsy kid. I kind of hated that toy, but I played with it anyway. I didn’t have any Barbie dolls except for a collectible Cher doll whose butt-long hair I chopped off at some point, but I did have Color n Curl Candi, you know, the toy where you can style hair and apply makeup on a creepy doll head. What I really wanted for years and years was the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine and the Easy Bake Oven, but I never got either of those toys.
In 4th grade, I was obsessed with making dioramas for book reports and became somewhat competitive about them at school. I had to make the best diorama, each one more elaborate than the one before, topping all other dioramas in the classroom. What a brat. There was a fair amount of bullying in school when I was 10, and I joined in with most of the other girls in the class picking on some of the girls that the mean girls singled out. I was still sort of newish to my neighborhood and I wanted to fit in. The previous year, I was the one who got picked on, primarily by a girl named April who would follow me home from school, taunting me the whole way home.
When I was 10, my best friends were Cecilia (but she was really kind of a frenemy) and a girl named Giselle. But I really wanted to be friends with a tomboy named Irene. She had the best tube socks and cut off jean shorts and rode the skateboard as well as any boy in the neighborhood. She didn’t really hang with any one crowd; she was way too cool for that.
In 4th grade we would make each other friendship pins which were tiny colored beads that you would bead onto tiny safety pins. You’d then collect those and hang them from bigger safety pins and wear it on your shirt or attach it to your bookbag (cross shoulder, of course. We didn’t wear backpacks in the 80s). The more pins you had, the more popular you were. We would also obsessively make braided ribbon barrettes in as many color combos that we could think of so that we could match every outfit. My favorite combo was green and purple.
When I was 10 I was still obsessed with unicorns and had a velvet black light unicorn poster up in my room. It hung there for years until I took it down and replaced it with band posters, probably Duran Duran and Def Leppard.
I have a 10 year old in the house now. I’m thinking back to all my 10 year old memories because I want to remember what it was like and to have some sort of window on what it feels like to be that age so I can understand her world better. Still a kid, but somehow different, older, definitely testing the boundaries of adolescence.
Is being 10 in 2014 so much different than 1980? Yeah, maybe. We were explaining to the kids what life before the internet was like, how we had to search in our Encyclopedia volumes (I had Funk & Wagnalls) to do book reports or actually leave our house and go to the library if we needed to look up something. NYC is also worlds apart from when I was a 10 year old. But trade in the friendship pins for Kid Robot Yummy keychains (kids are obsessed) and feather roach clips for Rainbow loom bracelets, and being 10 is still being 10.
I remember being 10. Life was still uncomplicated, but the world was certainly getting bigger.
Happy 10th birthday, kid.