I used to be the youngest person in the room. Always. It just sort of worked out that way. I didn’t mind it except I’ve always looked much younger than I actually am, so I would occasionally battle people for treating me like I was dumb just because I’m young. Since there is absolutely no reason to ever try and make yourself look older, the best way to combat that is to just prove that you are smart.
Lately though, I’m not the youngest person in the room. I’m not the oldest either, but DC is especially young demographically. I still look much younger than I actually am, so the gasps when people find out that I’m in my 40’s can actually be somewhat complimentary. In a back-handed sort of way. I really am fine with being in my 40’s. I enjoyed my 20’s, but I wouldn’t go back. A) I don’t want to be that poor again and B) I am much wiser now that I was then and while ignorance is bliss, I’ve done my time there. My 30’s were hard for a lot of different reasons. They actually helped provide me with the life experience that has given me the different world view that I have now. And, as much as I love my son, I don’t want to have a 4 year old again. My son will be 13 in a few days and while I know that there will be challenges that we’ll face in this new chapter of our lives, he is such a good kid and we have a lot of fun. And, as he gets older, my husband and I have been able to spend more couple time together again. In fact, this summer the boy- child spent a week at sleep away camp in another state and then went to his grandparents house for 3 weeks. We got a little glimpse of what our life will be like as empty-nesters and it’s safe to say that we are going to be just fine. I even stopped threatening to move to where ever he goes to college. And, now that he has his sights set on Syracuse, I can guarantee I won’t be moving there. Too cold. (If he changes his mind and ends up in Florida, he might still have a problem).
I digress, but the point is that I don’t mind getting older. I still can’t help but shake my head when I realize how far down I have to scroll on the drop down menu to select 1971 when inputting my birthday into a computerized field. And, when the Beloit College releases their “College Freshmen Mindset List” (this year most were born in 1994, which means they were never alive at the same time as Kurt Cobain) , I realize that even though I feel young and act young, I just see the world differently.
For instance, when Bill Clinton spoke at the DNC last week, most of the people in my office did not even remember him being president. He’s always been an elder statesman to them. They looked horrified when I told them that Bill Clinton was the first president I ever voted for. To be fair, it’s not just the fact that it was 1992 that they found horrifying. And, yesterday, the television in my office was tuned into the replays of the newscasts from 9/11. When I asked if we could turn it down, they didn’t understand why it was bothering me. I mean no disrespect, but I wish we could remember 9/11 without re-living it in that way. For them, watching the newscasts is more of a history lesson. For me, it is like watching a nightmare. That day is seared into my DNA. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the weather. I remember how quiet and still it was in LA with no planes flying and very little traffic on the road. I remember having to turn off the TV even then and go outside to escape the horror of it all. I realized that most of them were about my son’s age when it happened, so it probably did not change them in the same way it changed me. It changed me instantly. For them, it changed the world they would grow up in. My son, who was just days away from turning 2, would never know a world in which 9/11 had not happened.
I recall sitting in my friend’s dorm-room in 1989, watching the television coverage of the Berlin wall coming down and knowing that this was going to change the world — and the world view of future generations. The people in my office have never known a world in which there was a Berlin wall anywhere but in a museum.
These are the things that shape generations. They are the things that make us who we are.
And, then there are the things that transcend generations. Music is the greatest example. I was with my 18 year old cousin a couple of weeks ago. He’d gone to a used music store and came home with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. Honestly, I think buying that album has become a right of passage. I was in 5th grade when my dad took me to my first concert — Jimmy Buffett. I can tell you that a long line of Parrotheads was born that night as I was an instant fan and now, so is my son. When I was pregnant with Jake, we took my dad to see Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in concert. Sitting there with my dad, enjoying the music with Jake dancing around in my belly is one of my favorite memories. So today, when I got the email with a pre-sale passcode for the Bob Dylan/Mark Knopfler concert, I wondered to myself if my husband and I should take Jake to see it.
While I was considering buying tickets, I also wondered aloud if this might be a concert that would have good re-sale value. My co-worker turned and looked at me with a puzzled look. I thought he was contemplating the question itself.
Instead, he said, “I thought Bob Dylan was dead”.
A few minutes later, I was asked if I was interested in going on a road trip to an Auburn football game in November. Now, it was my turn to be puzzled. As one of the “old folks” in the office, I don’t even get invited to office happy hours. This probably has more to do with the fact that I have rules about drinking with co-workers (don’t do it). I thought that they probably wanted a designated driver. No. That wasn’t it at all. Turns out they need a driver, but it’s because they want to rent an RV. And, nobody is 25 yet.
Reason C for not wanting to go back to my 20’s: Needing a chaperone.