What The Hell Happened?

young to old

by Steve Buschbacher

I was just reminiscing about the times, fresh out of college, when I was starting out in the adult world. I had a job and I was starting a family. I had been talking with contemporaries who were telling me about how they were feeling scared about the unknown future and wondering how were they going to get by and make ends meet and so on.

I wasn’t worried. Maybe I was supremely over-confident but I felt certain that I would survive and that I would be able to provide for my family. I could spend time and mental effort worrying or I could get a job, hold it, and keep a roof over our heads. I chose the latter.

Not that the early times were not without strife of one kind or another. Sick kids, car or home repairs that came up at the worst possible time, and lost jobs made for storms that had to be weathered. And weathered they were. I raised 4 kids, helped them with homework, supplemented their education with life lessons at home, and sent them off into the world to be on their own and call me once in a while (shout out to my kids … Call your old man more often)

In October of this year, I will turn 65. If I had somehow not been aware of this milestone, I am helped along by the mailings that I get 2 or 3 times each week about Medicare. One overriding thought keeps coming to me every day… how did 40 years pass so quickly? What the hell happened??

(looks over in the direction of the unseen force that is ready to cue up “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler On The Roof. “Don’t you dare!”)

Those long nights with sick kids or the even longer nights when I did not feel well and couldn’t sleep are all collapsed into my last 40 years. Traffic jams on the Kennedy Expressway? They’re in there too. Waiting 20 minutes to cuss out a representative from my health insurance company? Yep, in there too.

What is next? Telling stories about how cheap baseball game tickets used to be? How cheap it was to ride the CTA anywhere? How I used to walk a mile to and from Saint Edward’s school no matter the weather? How I saw Billy Williams in his rookie year? How I saw Led Zeppelin on their first U.S. tour?

OMG… It had happened to me! I turned into someone routinely taking trips down memory lane. Someone who remembered going to Sid Sherman’s in downtown Chicago just to play the drum sets they had all set up there. Someone who happily remembers paying $2700 for his first new car? But it’s not just remembering these things. Oh no! I talk about them. Just like the adults used to when I was a kid and I thought how lame it was to have nothing more than memories to talk about.

(Actually, I LOVE telling the story about seeing Led Zeppelin on their first tour. I saw them, Jethro Tull, and Savoy Brown at the Kinetic Playground for $5. Drive’s the young’uns nuts.)

But, what is left? Yes, we are the sum total of our experiences so talking about them is natural, right? Talking about them as if anyone in earshot is hanging on my every word? OK, not so much.

I want to count on Social Security and Medicare but I’ll have to wait to see how Mitch McConnell torpedoes either or both of them. (shout out to Mitch – “How about doubling the ceiling for contributions from $128,400 to $256,800? Just a thought.”)

If I could relay advice to younger folks it would be this – Every good moment is a treasure. Keep it close. Never let yourself be rushing from one obligation to the next. Stop and notice a sunset. Take joy in your child’s appearance or in your partner’s appearance. Better yet, in both. Freeze moments in time. You will need these to talk about 40 years from now. Trust me on that. One day, you will ask “What the hell happened?”


One thought on “What The Hell Happened?

  1. Extremely well expressed. As someone who turns 65 on May 2nd 2018, I can absolutely relate to your experiences. You have a wider range of music memories than I do, but I did see Elton John at the Arie Crown Theater in 1971 (Cannon Ball Adderly was the opening act) and tickets were easy to come by and were NOT pricey. I lived near the lake and was close enough to Comiskey (If you have to ask what Comiskey is this particular conversation is over) to see the smoke from the fireworks. I am NOT trying to top your Chicago memories, just want to share a few of my own. You and your family will always be well thought of by my family.


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