This is where I admit that I'm old enough to remember when early October meant freezing temperatures and first snowflakes--and soda meant bottles. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to walk through the neighborhood where I attended primary school. The landmarks where I spent so much of my childhood have now taken on a smallish appearance, like an open-air museum. If I'd gone to school in Paris or something, I imagine there would be plenty of change to make me feel appropriately old. With a few notable exceptions, my primary school remains oddly intact, as does the surrounding area.
One thing I'm sure has changed is the soda machine in the teachers' lounge. I have oddly clear memories of it. It was the kind, as I recall, where you opened a door and reached in to grab a bottle as it was released by the mechanism. It dispensed 12-ounce bottles of Coke, Fanta, Tab and the like. Soda in cans didn't catch on until I was about 10 and in middle school (this would have coincided roughly with New Coke and later, Coca-Cola Classic).
Strange, then, that thirty years later, the nearby convenience store would again offer 12-ounce bottles of Coke and Fanta, in the retro formula with real cane sugar. I couldn't resist buying a couple. As I drank the soda, I reflected on how strange it was that while our experience of soda changed to cans and then plastic bottles, the glass bottle always existed just outside that reality, ready to reappear to my 39-year-old self. (Remarkably, no non-Fanta substances were involved in this reflection.)
And I would be a liar if I said my current experience of time felt anything other than...well, porous. The senses that open at that school are again as raw and bare as ever. It's clear to me that just as today's 50, 60 and 70-year-olds are rewriting the book on that age, my 40-year-old cohort is rewriting the book on our life experience. I'd walked through the subdivision adjoining the school so rarely in the intervening years that I practically remembered each child's lunch box as I walked past the houses. "Hey, that's where Chicken Noodle Soup lives!"