by Will Schreiber

Two things have changed since 1990

I was born in 1990. Two things have changed since then:

  1. Water fountains
  2. Lightbulbs

A couple years ago, I landed in Albuquerque en route to Taos. The jet bridge from the Southwest plane to the terminal was a time machine to the 1990’s. Every store logo had that brutalist Seinfeld font aesthetic. The wallpaper was a blue-splash pattern like those old coffee cups, the windows were small, the brick was multicolored, and there wasn’t a water fountain in sight.

It took me back to elementary school, standing in line after gym, waiting for my turn at the dinky metal drink fountain. I’d push my entire body weight against the panel hoping for just a dribble of water.

Now all of those dinky fountains have add-ons sitting on top, which fill bottles at a torrential pace. And everybody seems to carry a bottle everywhere they go. When did this bottle craze begin?

The only change bigger than the water bottle has been the lightbulb. I dropped a plastic IKEA LED bulb yesterday. It hit the floor. Nothing happened.

I still remember my dad slicing his hand as he tried to catch a falling glass bulb. He probably juggled it because it was insanely hot after taking it out of its socket. The radiant heat from those bulbs made reading in the summer a tortuous event.

I do miss the startling “pop” you’d hear every once in a while, when the little wire inside the bulb would burn to a crisp and leave a black burn mark on the glass.

There are lots of things I don’t remember. I don’t remember NFL games being grainy. I don’t remember how all the movie trailers had that corny deep voice explaining “In A World…”. I don’t remember packages taking a long time to ship. I don’t remember wanting to listen to a song, but not being able to.

Everything seems the same in retrospect. Everything except the fact that humans were camels, and all homes were lit with a warm yellow glow.