When searching for words and images that captured the nineties, at first my mind could conjure up very little. After all, I was only five years old when the decade ended. For a while I could only think of the terrible fashion worn by Play school presenters. Mullets and shoulder pads leftover from the eighties, junners (jeans with runners), and baggy woollen jumpers.
The nineties were my early childhood. I don’t know about you, but the first five years of my life were filled with many great adventures. Maybe for you it was getting your hand stuck inside a VHS machine and screaming for your mother to get it out. I was watching ABC cartoons like Trap Door, the Ferals, and William’s Wish Wellingtons. I watched Wallace and Gromit until the tape wore out and I had to go outside. Let’s not forget Pokemon. When I was a little older, I played Pokemon Red on my brother’s original black and white brick. The intensity of the game was always compounded by the fact that the console had a battery life of approximately half an hour.
For me the highlights of the nineties were definitely going to the Hi-Five concert and shoplifting a Wiggles T-shirt. That was great fun, except for when Mum had to drag me back to the department store. I also got lost in the supermarket once; the manager returned me to my Mum and gave me a yowie. I still get lost in supermarkets, but yowies are now fossilised in another decade.
My older cousins were teenagers, watching shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and The Simpsons. They were listening to Alanis Morrisette’s ironically unironic hit new single. (It’s like rain on your wedding day? I’m sorry honey, but I think that’s just really bad luck). And let’s not forget that the nineties were the first time we saw Heath Ledger’s dreamy claim to fame in Ten Things I Hate About You and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
As for my parents? They were in the throes of bringing up children. Their experience of the nineties was a blur of dirty nappies, sleepless nights, and sickness. They tell me that they don’t remember much apart from being nearly broke and covered in food and vomit.
My experience of the nineties was limited to those first experiments of early life – being pushed on the swing, running around, riding my bike rolling down grassy hills. When they weren’t playing video games with blocky graphics, our older siblings were playing in the streets with the neighbours. Miniskirts were still in fashion. I envied the girls who had stick on earrings and sparkly plastic gummi shoes.
While I was growing up, the world was turning. The Iraq War raged, the Cold War thawed. The Rwandan genocide killed nearly a million people, while South Africa successfully dismantled apartheid. Society remained blissfully ignorant of global warming. Third wave feminism flourished.
Our world was smaller in comparison. My father went to work in a white Subaru and listened to cassette recordings of Powderfi nger and Kurt Cobain. He spent his days in front of chunky grey desktop computer in a cubicle vaguely reminiscent of Offi ce Space. His telephone set had a curly cord. He kept his work on a fl oppy disc. The internet was still new and the sound of the dial up modem and fax machines punctuated the hum of Windows 95 systems.
90s aesthetics were really quite something. Fashion moved away from the glitter and glam of the eighties. Block colours, bangs and Jennifer Aniston hair seemed to be all the rage. So were hideous woollen jumpers.
Overall, the nineties was a decade of childhood and fun, sexy vampire slayers, and slightly questionable fashion trends. Bits and pieces of it are fuzzy in my memory, but I enjoyed every second of it. I can’t wait to relive it this week and party like it’s 1999.