Travel Like It’s 1999

Carefree beach days, planning my tan lines and next snack. No thoughts for carbon emissions or the climate warming 7°C during the lifetime of my future grandkids.

If there were worries, they were about the wrong things. Applying anti-aging cream at 25. Pointless! Who has wrinkles at 25?!?

Collecting frequent flyer points. Also quite pointless now!

In an old post (this brewing was in my drafts for a while – okay, years), my lovely blogger friend Tanja asked what her readers’ travel dreams were. She dreamt of London, always. Mine are not of a place, but rather of the idea of simply going back to those carefree days… before all this.

It’s hard for me to now revive that glamour that travel once had for me. Even without Covid, there’s climate change.

After having kids, I’ve changed into a different person. My blog has been by my side through this change, and if you were to dig up posts from the good old days of 2015, you’d hardly recognize me as the same author.

I remember back in 1999 when people were talking of the big crossover to the year 2000, what might happen. The feared – and yet somehow rather eagerly awaited – Y2K. There was talk of computers everywhere going berserk, causing utter and total chaos. And also talk of how that New Year’s Eve should be the most amazing spectacle ever.

But nothing happened. I spent New Year’s Eve in Brisbane and it was just a night amongst others, except for the fact that I was in the company of my childhood best friend who I hadn’t seen in 12 years.

12 years felt like a long time then, but now I think: it was only 12 years?! Eons have passed since. It’s now been over 30 years since we moved from Brisbane.

At some point, don’t ask when (though it was closer to now than “back then”), I read another blog post which started something like, “Time was invented by man, but measuring time is something we couldn’t do without.”

That makes me wonder: what if our ancestors had never invented the concept of time? Could that even be possible?

Was the concept of time something undeniably unavoidable for humans? What would happen differently if we didn’t track time? Is time manmade or is it something that was discovered?

And what about hours, minutes, seconds? Would they exist without us?

Another article I read (years ago) said the Great Barrier Reef had lost half of its corals in the past 25 years.

In 1999, I scuba dived there, amongst pink corals, colourful fish curious enough to approach us, and an unforgettable giant clam. Sometimes, when really I search my memory, I have a feeling there was a giant pearl inside the giant clam, but I’m pretty sure my mind is just colouring that in. That enormous clam sitting amongst corals, observant and alive, seems so magical the way my mind remembers it, and a pearl would suit it perfectly.

I had no scuba diving training, but in 1999 that wasn’t a problem. The instructor simply took my hand underwater and guided me, separate from the group. I could hear my own breathing in an eery way, and it sounded like Darth Vader was lurking behind me. I had a sensation of drowning, of it being unnatural to be so far underwater like that, and I was scared – but also in awe. Afterwards, we all had prawn dinner in the sunset on the deck of a sailing boat, and watched dolphins jump by in the gorgeous turquoise water. The sand on the bottom of the sea was white and the water so clear you could see everything. Almost each individual grain.

The next day, I snorkeled and saw a reef shark underneath me, and I’m still quite unsure how far down it was. The water blurred distances. But its sharklike shape was instantly recognizable.

Right now, travel and holidays feel distant. Like a plot in a movie, it couldn’t happen to me.

Back when I lived in Paris, a Finnish girl there said, “Finland’s such a bird’s nest”; a safe little haven where people are cozy and sheltered and nothing ever happens. I shook my head, sighing: it was a boring place, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Now, I embrace boringness. I’ve even elevated it to the next level, close to an art form. This suddenly feels like a good place to shelter through the storm.

Time, manmade or not, has a funny way of twisting a person’s perspective.

20 responses to “Travel Like It’s 1999

  1. Ah, Y2K! At work, I was the person responsible for making sure all our equipment was Y2K ready. Boring and pointless, but at least I got paid for all those wasted hours.
    Time is a human word, but the concept of time would have been almost impossible for humans to avoid I think. The daily change from light to dark to light again. The changing of the seasons and the availability of food or the need for shelter. And the visible evidence of humans growing older, changing appearance. So much is related to the passage of time. In some ways, time is less relevant these days, certainly from a survival point of view, though it dominates our lives in ways our ancestors would never have imagined!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Somehow I don’t wonder at all that you were the Y2K guy! I don’t know why, but it just seems to fit 🙂 You seem so calm and collected, the guy everyone would ask for help with their IT.

      And true, I guess time is very visible in the ways you described. It would have been interesting to have become an anthropologist and spend my work days studying things like how ancient cultures perceived time. Maybe next lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I was just the schmuck who would do the Y2K stuff. Knowledge and qualifications were optional! I think there’s an evolutionary element to time. Those who figured out food could be collected at this time and used later when little was available would have a big advantage over those living from day to day. They’d be, ‘Well we’re out of food. That’s us done for.’

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in Germany back in the 1990’s I don’t think if I went back it would be the same experience . Everything is always changing and not always for the better! Enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we needed time when we started associating together in groups and society. When we got organized. Being organized is closely allied with the concept of time. But it is an interesting subject, as I once read a novel by a Danish author around the concept of becoming so acutely aware of everything could actually slow down our concept of time passing. Quite a fascinating concept.
    Having said that, I find it so hard to remember the time when the children were little. Photos and videos help but that time slips through the fingers even though I tried hard to be aware of it. The distractions of life don’t allow us to consciously note so much time passing. Our minds are occupied elsewhere. Noting the passage of time requires concentration. I think time would exist without us, but it becomes meaningless without us.
    You were in Brisbane on Y2K eve! Now that is amazing. I was pregnant that NYE and I remember spending it at the radiologist having some intensive tests and then celebrating with friends in a park festival very close to where I now live. (I lived far away from here at that time).
    Thanks for jogging the memory. You know that if you are ever in Brisbane again……

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A thought provoking post! You are right that the glamour of travel is wearing off, all these darn tests and COVID forms, and of course the climate crisis. I agree with Graeme re time, humans like animals have always followed the rhythms of the day and seasons, and the cycle of the moon – but this was a more natural time-keeping than the slavish, artificial schedule of the factory floor and of the office. I think it makes people unhappy when they can’t follow the natural rhythms.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Y2K , I´ve heard about this bug !! ohh ages. Am I that old already??
    since I moved to Germany, I never saw New Year´s celebration as an spectacle.
    We fire some fireworks for a few minutes, have a drink and roll down the rollershutters, then go back to sleep.Now it´s totally forbidden to do some. Even more boring.

    It´s a great time to look back at those times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting post, Snow! Just the other day my husband and I were talking about time and the boringness that we have come to surround us with, intentionally perhaps! I sometimes don’t like ‘tracking time’ but I guess this thing called time is almost inherent… it is there with us from our birth. In a way, babies cry when it’s time to eat or when it’s time to sleep…loosely speaking. And that starts taking on intricate and often complicated patterns as we get older…time to jog, time to meditate, time to schedule that appointment…everything is dictated by that time! But we do slow down time, or perhaps harbor that illusion, when perhaps we are on a vacation? When we get lost in the pages of a book? When we are in a library? But I also think that time would be lost without us…we give it meaning by filling it up with a gazillion things. Who knows! It was lovely going through your post, as always! ‘Good old days’…maybe that’s why the phrase…when life was a little more carefree, when compared to the current. War wishes to you:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember 1999 – half of the programmers I worked with thought it would be the end of the world! I thought there was something magical about Finland. I loved the emphasis on fairies and elves! I remember a church in Helsinki that was very magical indeed. Can’t remember the name of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A thought provoking post Snow. I emphathize all your points … except the part about scuba diving. I tried scuba diving but could never get beyond the fear of drowning to appreciate the underwater sights.

    My observation is that people have always appreciated tha passage of time but it’s relative passage & the markers that measure it, changes. Do you remember the internet minute? It was a meme (at least for techies) in the early 2000s. It referred to the rate of change in the internet age, esp. compared to the 1900s.

    But it’s all relative isn’t it. When I’m in the city surrounded by people & urgent stuff to do, time moves quickly. When I’m in the country with no deadlines or urgency, it moves slowly.

    I found having kids was a big marker of time for me … suddenly, time’s passage wasn’t marked by calendars & schedules, it was marked by their growth. I remember it being slow when living it, but on reflection, after they’ve grown, it was all too fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 1999 was FOREVER ago!
    Ah, I would love to go diving by the reef someday.
    Travel is definitely different these days. There’s so much hassle with all the restrictions that are changing what seems like every day!


  10. Love the opening photo ~ a feeling of freedom and so much to see and experience, a feeling of the past and youth. The current situation of the world has made me feel restricted and old… and had to cancel my trip next week to Lisbon because of new restrictions and overall mood. But there is also a comfort we find in this new world, and like you it is not too bad 🙂 Wishing you a great holiday season!


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