It is perhaps one of the greatest gifts in life for those of us who have a few years added on to our youthful days.

The memories, tastes and feelings of past feel good moments that still live on in your mind are pure gold. Life in the good old days…ahhhhh. It was all so simple then. Naturally.

Sunbathing, cut-off jean shorts, and old-fashioned cakes are on my nostalgia plate recently. I never tire of regaling my kids with “the good old life” stories from my fabulous 80’s days. I was definitely born to be an 80’s chick. You know how I feel about big permed hair.

Best. Hair style. Ever.

(I think it could technically be an heirloom now. And as long as we’re labeling, I’m close.)

I sat outside in a bathing suit a few weeks ago when we had our first true warm weather days, with the sole purpose of sunbathing. Beach towel, bathing suit, suntan lotion and me sprawled out on the beach towel on the grass. I have not done that in years. There are always other things to do and too many interruptions. With my newfound change in daily routine, and a very cold spring, the desire to get my bare skin out in that sunshine was great.

As a result, I became a “what not to do” moment for my kids who have grown up using sunscreen.

I do it every year.

The first time my body parts that never see the light of day come out of hibernation, they end up crispy.

And every year, I’m surprised.

I’m 49.

I finally acknowledged that this will be my story. You see, I grew up in the 80’s. Have I ever mentioned that? In the 80’s, my fabulous formative years, there was no need for sunscreen. It was baby oil, baby. Johnson’s pure baby oil. That’s what we needed. At the very least, we went for suntan lotion with the lowest protection, mainly for the smell. Coppertone. That smell can still send me into happiness. And my days were full of nothing of importance but to spend as much time outside getting as tan as possible. That was fashion. You got through schoolwork or your job and then headed out to sit in the sun. For hours.

Protecting my skin from sun damage has now also been a part of my life, so I no longer spend my whole warm weather days in that sunbathing career, nor could I even if I wanted to.  I’d have to find someone to take over my to-do list. Any takers?

But, each year, those first few warm summery days send out their siren call and I am weak. I think, “The sun isn’t that hot yet, I’ll just take a few moments to put my piggies out and get some vitamin D. My body needs vitamin D.” I read that somewhere. I also read that you need to eat fat when you eat your salad. I love reading.

And this year, while partaking in true sunbathing, I found myself wrangling all of my body parts around to get sun on every part. Habits die hard. My brain told me it does matter. White stripes down my sides are not part of the intended look. Neither are white arm pits. This intense sun bathing body wrangling task is not usually perty so I do it in the comfort and privacy of my own home space, tucked away from the road. People should enjoy the results, not the process that can’t be unseen.

And now, let’s talk about cut-off jean shorts. True cut-off jean shorts, not the “already made in the factory” kind that are sold in stores today, make my heart so happy. In the 80’s, we cut everything. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, and jeans topped my list, although I was known to cut my barbie dolls’ hair too. That was fashion and quite practical too. Recently, I was found with scissors in hand to amend some jeans, sweatshirts and t-shirts that I didn’t like “as is” and my daughter wanted to know what I was doing. She received a lesson in true fashion right then and there. Guess who is now wearing cut off’s this season? I’ve always been an “influencer”.

A few years ago my college gal pals and I got together when I was in town. At that point in my life, I was a mom to three very wee ones and shopping was not something easily done, even if I liked clothes shopping, which I don’t. Luckily, I had the fashion of the 80’s still with me so I wore my cut-off jean shorts and flip flops. My suave college gal pals on the other hand, had left the cut-off’s behind and were rather cute in their sundresses and stylish shorts. Hmph. I guess there is room for both kinds of fashion. I have now added some cute sundresses and stylish shorts and tops to my wardrobe for those times when maybe, just maybe, cut-off jean shorts are not the best fashion choice. I’m flexible, but they’re still my fave.

Nostalgia can’t exist without food. There are so many food memories. And nothing beats the taste of homemade desserts, those old-fashioned desserts “take the cake”. For some reason, I was craving a Coca-Cola cake. I don’t remember that being something my mom made, we did not eat a lot of chocolate cakes, and I can’t specifically remember ever eating one really. That’s the fun part of nostalgia – maybe I’m making it all up but I sure can taste it. It’s a chocolate cake, the cousin of the Texas sheet cake, made with cola. Usually it has a chocolate frosting made with cola as well, but I found a recipe in an old Coca-Cola cookbook for a cola buttercream, and that sounded like the right partner. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, so this combo seemed to please me. My peeps like to cook and bake, so I usually rotate the recipes through them, finding it easier to work with one at a time than all three. It was my oldest son’s turn to bake with me so we did just that. Our cake was for our Memorial Day gathering, which was not a gathering at all this year because we don’t want any virus germs, so it was a cake for us. The results? Meh. We couldn’t taste the cola at all, it was just a mild moist chocolate cake with plain frosting. There are worse things in life and we ate it all, so we really can’t complain. But, it did nothing to appease my need for coke in a cake. Maybe I needed to use Diet Pepsi. That’s the best cola drink around, everybody knows that. (Wink, wink.)

Wanna know how I came to love and crave Diet Pepsi? I thought you would. I never liked diet soda because the taste was too saccharin-y. Probably because that’s what they used back then. Ahhhh…the good old days. Well, in college, I was quite the cook my senior year in our townhouse, for myself anyway because we just worried about ourselves back then. Ahhhh…the good old days.

I made the same meal all the time. If I cooked, this was what I cooked. Pan-fried boneless chicken breast with bread crumbs, canned corn and fried canned potatoes. I topped my chicken with hot sauce and that was my dinner day after day if I was not eating in the campus dining hall or ordering chicken wings or getting McDonald’s. But I never had a drink, aside from tap water, so I would sneak and pour myself some of my roommate’s soda because she was always stocked with…you guessed it – Diet Pepsi. I guess my laziness created a Diet Pepsi lover in me as a result and after close to 30 years later, I’d say it is safe to say I will be one for life – the whole next 66 years of it.

I’m glad we had this little chat. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed all mankind, really, especially the grown-up ones. My cat and I feel like prisoners here in our sunroom fort surrounded by only wee ones. We can venture out of the fort but those wee ones can smell it when we do and then they realize that they are hungry. I wish we all just worried about ourselves.

For some reason, I am craving a super icy cold Diet Pepsi so I guess I need to make a run for it. Wish me luck!