Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next day you’re gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like a lot of other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder.
— The Wonder Years, final episode, 1993
Recently, I discovered the cable TV station, ION, started showing reruns of The Wonder Years, which had the simplest of plots — a young boy growing up in the 1960s, dealing with school, friends, family and of course, girls.
The Wonder Years ran from 1988 to 1993 and followed Kevin Arnold from his junior high years to his senior year of high school. I graduated high school in 1994, so for those six years, I grew up with Kevin. Sure, the “timeframe” of the show was the 1960s, but the show dealt more with life than it did that era.
“There was a time when the world was enormous…Spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up. Where you didn’t think twice about playing on someone else’s lawn. And the street was your territory .that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn’t get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room. And you knew they would never change.”
Kevin had the childhood I wanted. I didn’t have a Winnie Cooper, the pure-as-snow girl who lived across the street. I didn’t have the “neighborhood,” as my family moved around a lot growing up, and it wasn’t until high school until I had a “Paul,” (my friend Jacob actually resembled Paul, too).
But I still could relate to every episode in some way … whether it was problems at school, getting that first summer job, scrounging up the money to buy a girlfriend a gift, family vacations, field trips.
I, like Kevin, was not popular, nor was I not popular (if that makes sense).
In other words, the show was able to not only mirror my life, but it also provided an escape of sorts, providing glimpses of a childhood I wanted. That’s not an easy thing to pull off.
And based on The Wonder Years’ popularity, I suppose I was not alone.
Unfortunately, The Wonder Years is one of the few popular shows that hasn’t been released season-by-season on DVD. So I’m thankful it’s coming on twice a night on ION, which means I’m able to catch it probably once a week … just like when I was a kid.