No disrespect meant to the younger crowd here, but this topic is aimed more at the 30+ users. Although all are certainly welcome to participate, you haven't really lived long enough to really answer with any degree of certainty. Your life is still too fluid.
More to the point. If you're a 15 year old, chances are you're still in 'short term' memory mode. To you, yesterday has been forgotten. You give little thought to tomorrow. Your 20th birthday is still an eternity away. The most important things on your mind are probably wondering what the most popular songs on the radio are, if there's going to be any hot chicks at tomorrows party, and how you're going to get that piercing and/or tattoo without your folks finding out. Though chances are, you probably wouldn't give a damn what they thought anyway.
But back on topic to those of us who've lived a substantial part of lives, or have at least gotten them reasonably underway. What year do you feel was the most important one of your life? Why? Was it because of all the parties you went to or trips you went on? Was it a series of firsts or events that set the stage for your life since? Or was it something else?
I'm going to choose door number 2.
That case, being the great year 1991. Just as a reminder. This is the year that:
1. Midway, Eastern, and Pan Am went out of business.
2. Operation Desert Shield became Gulf War I, known at the time as "Desert Storm".
3. The group Nirvana literally overnight rewrote all of the rules of popular music. With one song, everything recorded up to that point went out the window. This is a plague we still suffer from to this day. Pretty much every popular rock song recorded in the last 14 years has the same chainsaw guitar and raspy, whining angry white boy harmony to it.
Anyway, here's my list of why 1991 will forever be a red-letter year in my history:
April 27: lost virginity (this is a very, VERY big milestone in any young mans life. Don't ever, EVER let anyone tell you differently. The moment you have your first orgasm inside a woman, your whole attitude and outlook on life changes.)
May 15: lettered and medaled in swimming. Not significant in and of themself. But I learned a lot more from swimming than just flip turns and gruelling laps. These are lessons I learned and still practice in my life to this day: teamwork, discipline, sacrifice, delayed gratification, the mental satisfaction that comes from seeing a task through, from beginning to end. Although there were days I swore (under water or under my breath) at coach Mount, he was a man I learned to respect a lot, whom I still respect and admire so much of what he said today.
June 17: graduated high school. Pretty self explanatory
August 19: began college. Although much of my textbook education came from high school and more here, it was during my college days that my REAL education: the school of life begun.
October 30: I bought my first car. Although I had my drivers license since July of 1990, I had, up to this point used my parents' and parents' friends cars. Because of my college class hours, between Aug 19 and Oct 29, I relied on busses or friends to get around. My first car was nothing to be proud of: a '73 VW Beetle. But it was mine. I paid for it from the money I had saved working part time as a boxboy at Trader Joes and then as a cook/cashier/janitor at a little Broasted Chicken takeout joint. I really started to learn the value of a dollar, having to pay for the car, gas, maintennance, and insurance out of my pocket.
Before that, I always thought that my parents were being cheap and/or difficult whenever they refused to buy me something totally unnecessary.
Now I was beginning to understand why.
These are but the most significant events for me from that year. But the whole year was a lot to go through-at the time.
In January, I was riding a bicycle to and from senior high school and swimming, and using my parents cars on the weekends.
By December, I had gotten laid, employed, my own car, endured graduation and public transportation, seen the vast differemce between high school and college, and had my eyes opened to the stark differences between the sheltered relatively carefree existance of being dependant on parents to entering adulthood.
This was a lot to go through. And it happened pretty quickly.
There were so many things, both good and bad that happened that year. Those myriads of events and memories are still so much more burned into my head than just about any others. I can tell you a hell of a more about 1991 than I can from, say 2002-2003, which are pretty much a blur to me anyway.
These events that shaped my life, are both crystal clear and sharp in mind as well as etheral and distant. I sometimes look back and those memories almost seem like they happened in a different life, to a different person, especially when a song I liked or first heard during that year comes on. I still frequently have dreams and recollections about events that happened during that year and the arm of influence they have on me today. Not to mention that I sometimes wonder how things might be today had I done things differently. For example...what if I had not pushed Shannon off of my lap when she stuck her hand down my shorts while we were in her backyard that July afternoon? Her and I were getting really close and spent an awful lot of time together. What if I ended up with her? So many things that happened since might not have.
I also look back and think about what's happened since. I've had my shares of joy and triumph as well as sadness and failure.
It's all part of life.
But anytime I see the numbers "1991", I'll always think of the one year that shaped my life more than any other before or since.