I just saw my teenage self on Youtube!

That’s me in 1975 (on the right)

I’ve heard other people talk about stuff like this happening to them, but I never dreamed it would happen to me.   I always thought it would be the most surreal and cool experience, and last night I found out just how true that is.

As many of us are doing with so much free time, I’ve been browsing the internet a lot.   And as many other people probably do, sometimes I put names of people I know or used to know in my Google browser and see what comes up.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve Google’d this particular ex boyfriend’s name, but this time certainly was the most fruitful!   I dated this guy, let’s call him Steven, for about a year and a half from 1974 to 1976.  That’s a really long time ago, long enough that memories of that time have a grainy, shadowy, almost dreamlike quality, like an old filmreel.  We also had a pretty long relationship for people in their midteens, long enough to make some vivid memories, although we never became “serious” or talked about marriage.  After all, I was only 15 and 16 years old!

Eventually we broke up and he went off to college and we went in very different directions.   I’m not here to tell you about what became of him, but let’s just say he made better choices than I did and has become fairly well known in his field.  I regret nothing that happened to me though, even the bad things, as I was able to take away some valuable life lessons from all those experiences.  I don’t believe I would be the person I am today had my life been “easy.”

So, back on topic, last night my Google search yielded quite a catch!  Of course the usual entries for Facebook and a lot of those horrible “people search” websites came up, and a few news articles about his accomplishments over the years.  And a Youtube channel.   Now that was something new.    I clicked on the link…

…and almost passed out from shock. I WAS IN the first two videos!  OMG!

Steven went to an exclusive private high school for high achieving boys.  It was a “special” school in that it offered courses that you’d normally only find in a college curriculum, such as Sociology or Filmmaking.  Steven was in the filmmaking class and had to make his own short movies to fulfill the course requirements.  So during the 1975/76 school year, when we were in “puppy love,” he made several films starring the two of us, and I helped a lot with the stop motion and animated parts.  In fact, in one of them, I actually did all the drawings.  I remember how grueling that was, having to draw all those paper cutouts in slightly different positions to make the frames seem to run together smoothly, like a real cartoon (think South Park).

My initial emotion on watching myself (and us together!) as I was 45 years ago was simply amazed disbelief.  If something like this has ever happened to you, you will know exactly how surreal and cool it is.  It’s like watching your own memories in real time, and with more clarity than you ever had before.  You suddenly see things and details that were forgotten long ago.  Because there were no smartphones or even camcorders back in those days, Steven used a home movie camera to make his films, with that old super 8 film.   The grainy quality and little black moving squiggles that appear in old filmreels were there, giving the whole experience of watching the footage an extra air of the surreal, even a kind of eerieness, like a dream.

I sat there watching in utter disbelief, with my mouth hanging open and my eyes bugged out.  I’m sure I must have drooled on the floor a little, lol.  I think I actually screeched when I saw my own young face staring back at me from the recesses of time.  It was a good feeling though, really good.


I’ve often complained (sometimes on this blog) that I have very few pictures of myself as a child and teenager.  Most of them got lost or thrown out during one of my many moves.  I really have no idea what happened to them all.  There used to be so many. I used to think my parents (particularly my mother) must have thrown them away, but I’m not so sure she did.  No one seems to know where they are.   I always wished I had more old photos, not to show others, or even to reminisce, but to help me remember parts of my distant past as part of therapy.   I never imagined I’d recover not just some old photos I hadn’t seen in decades, but myself actually moving, at times even in close up!  Unfortunately, the videos have no sound, as the audio part probably wasn’t able to be uploaded to Youtube, or maybe the sound got corrupted over the years. (They originally did have audio).   But I’m not complaining.

I debated posting the videos here, but decided against it because (a) there’s too much identifying information, such as my maiden name, etc.; and (b) while fun to watch (and certainly fun to make), these films are truly cringeworthy, haha!  And the fashions!  Oh. My. God!   But I still wanted to share them in some way.  I settled on taking some screenshots.   (The fortune teller screenshot is actually a sort of gypsy costume I put together; I didn’t actually dress like that!)

So, I know what you all are probably thinking.  Did I let Steven him know I saw his videos?  My answer to that is, no not really, but he could probably figure out it was me if he was so inclined.  Under one of the videos, I commented, “omg.”  He can always click on my Youtube icon from there, and figure out from my videos and the rabbit hole that will lead him down who I am.  He hasn’t forgotten about me or our time together, and these videos were only posted THREE WEEKS AGO!  How weird is that?  I felt awkward identifying myself, for several reasons. First, like I already mentioned, he’s very successful financially and professionally, and I’m not so much.  I’m not comparing myself to him; I just feel like we’re in way different leagues.  Second, it would just feel awkward after that long a time.  I can’t explain why, it just is.

The internet (and Youtube) is an amazing, incredible invention.

Sorry, I couldn’t make the screenshots larger, but you can click them on and they will appear bigger in a separate window.

The dead mall in town.

Entering the Innsbruck Mall. Notice the 1970s era tile pattern on the gleaming white tile floor and the fake gaslight.

I finally got my registration this morning. My car’s legal!

But I’ve already said enough about the registration ordeal. This post isn’t about that. It’s about the building the DMV registration and title office is in.

It’s housed in a dead mall. The Innsbruck Mall in Asheville, NC to be exact. The mall is small but so famous it’s featured on Deadmalls.com, one of my favorite websites.

I love dead malls. They’re cavernous, creepy, and so very nostalgic.

The indoor mall’s heyday was the late 1950s through probably the 1990s, with their peak in popularity occurring in the 1970s and 1980s. After that, they seemed to lose popularity quickly in favor of the “big box” stores like Target, Walmart and Staples. No doubt the rise of online shopping had something to do with it too.

The Innsbruck Mall was a busy social and shopping center in the 1970s and possibly the late 1960s (I don’t know the exact year it was built). When the much larger and hipper Asheville Mall was built in 1979 or so, the Innsbruck Mall (which is just down the road and offered no competition), began to lose customers and its stores began to close.

Innsbruck is barely alive but someone’s keeping it on life support. Nearly all the storefronts are empty or boarded up, and the only inhabitants are offices of various kinds–the DMV, a couple of insurance agents, and one or two other offices–and inexplicably, a bridal shop (which just opened) that I’d bet will close soon just like all the other stores that have tried to do business here in the past 30 years. There are no longer any anchor stores. I don’t know who owns Innsbruck or why they bother to keep this dinosaur clean or even maintain it, because the mall is empty. The only humans you see there are the long line of people in front of the DMV and an occasional random homeless person who isn’t going to find any food or handouts here, since there aren’t any eateries or a food court and the only other people are DMV patrons who probably aren’t in the mood to drop spare change in a homeless person’s coffers.

I took some photos. The mall is creepy but very clean. It’s also a wonderful testament to late 1960s/early 1970s mall decor. When I was there today, there was actually 1970s music being piped in on the mall’s ancient, crackling PA system. It was quite eerie but in a cool way. I felt like I was in a timewarp and I wondered if the choice of music was deliberate. The DMV office looked just as dated, with dirty wood paneling, a worn beige tile floor, stained acoustic ceiling tiles, and unpleasantly bright fluorescent lights. I didn’t take a picture of it.

It makes me giggle that the plants surrounding the benches (which are real), actually look pretty healthy. Maybe they like all the old Elton John, Seals and Crofts and Captain and Tennille crackling through the speakers. Hey, I do and I’m not a plant.

Creepy empty storefronts.

Better view of the plants. They’re real!

ETA: I didn’t take a photo of the DMV office, but I found this one on Google!
Notice the tired 1960s/1970s wood paneling (which I’m pretty sure is original):

DMV at the Innsbruck Mall.

I found this photo of the mall from 2012–not looking much more active than it does now. Notice the faux-“colonial” architecture of the storefront. To me, that screams 1960s.

Here’s a “virtual tour” I just found too (from 2011). Both the Christian bookstore and the furniture store shown in the video are closed and nothing ever came along to replace them. They’re just more empty storefronts now. The long-abandoned Ingles grocery store is still there, creepy as ever. From the look of it, I’d guess it wasn’t ever renovated since it was built, probably at the same time as the mall it served as an anchor for. It’s green and white tile floor pattern, pale green walls, and overall look remind of the smallish supermarkets I went to with my mother when I was a kid.
The tour shown here is fascinating but kind of sad.

Here’s an even better virtual tour that includes hilarious commentary. 😀