Sunday, May 11, 2014

Measuring In Decades

It was a Friday in May back in 1984 when I entered the world. As it happened, my dad was graduating from college the very next day and my mom missed the ceremony ... something I haven't yet lived down three decades later.

Three decades. 

At last.

I'm thirty.

I feel like I was supposed to dread this one. Doesn't everybody? Isn't the joke usually that you're only celebrating the anniversary of your 29th birthday?

But I'm ... genuinely excited.

Maybe it's because my twenties were characterized by mayhem and instability. A good chunk of them were great fun (college, hello) but I also feel like I spent a little too much time wondering what the heck I was doing with my life.

Me then. Holy cow, I was adorable.
It doesn't hurt that the couple of times I've slipped and said I was 30, people almost automatically took me more seriously. It's weird.

The other part of this is that in the last year, I've noticed shifts of my own. I complain a lot more about "kids today." I'm far more excited that I still have my natural hair color. (In fact, I'm now at a stage where I refuse to dye my hair until it becomes more, um, "necessary.") I find more excitement in shopping for light fixtures than I ever thought possible.

Actually, that last one makes me a little sad.

I am more baffled by the other things that have changed around me.

When I was born, gas cost less than $1.50 a gallon. [When I learned to drive, it was actually under a dollar. Crazy thought.] 3.5" floppy disks were just coming into use. CDs were only beginning to be a thing. HIV had just been discovered (though was known by two different names for awhile). The space shuttle Discovery went into flight for the very first time. The US raised the legal drinking age to a uniform 21 and it would be another four years before every state officially adopted it.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were in office in the US and UK. The Soviet Union was still intact (under Konstantin Chernenko, who would only serve for 13 months before Mikhail Gorbachev took over) and it would be another seven years before Desert Storm. It would be another six years before Nelson Mandela was released from prison and a full decade before he became President of South Africa.

Prince had the #1 song of the year with "When Doves Cry." And, heaven help us, "Amadeus" won the Best Picture Oscar for the year (among a pile of other Oscars, actually, which means that maybe I should give that film another chance without the skewed lens of a 13-year-old, like the last time I saw it).

When I was born, home computers weren't yet a "thing" and only the terribly connected had any use for a cell phone (which was usually a car phone ... so you were still tethered to something). Long distance phone calls were paid for by the minute. I grew up watching Sprint, MCI, and AT&T duke it out in commercials -- not DirecTV and DishNetwork.

I've gotten to grow with technology, from the days of DOS to this annoyance we call Windows 8. I've used cell phones that were almost as long as my head. I learned my western history from Oregon Trail on an Apple II. I've listened to books on tape, CD, mp3, and now I just open an app on my phone and hit play.

I currently own and can play movies in four different formats.

I am part of a generation torn. We know how to write in cursive, use a phone card, rewind a video - -- but now we're serving as tech support for tablets and smartphones. We remember life before 9/11 and Columbine (and we remember those days in particular). We got to bridge that gap, our kids growing up with things that didn't exist when we were their age, from iPads and smartphones to liquid limits in airline luggage.

There are things that haven't changed as much from the generation before me, of course. Like my parents, I'm discovering a new appreciation for coffee, Dr. Scholl's, and antacids. My knees ache more now than they did in college. My yearly physical is a tad more involved than it was then, too. (I miss the days when it basically consisted of the doctor verifying that I had a pulse.) My eyesight is terrible.

Bad example. My eyesight's been bad for 19 years.

Thankfully, I'm not actually old yet. 30. It's got a nice ring to it. Old enough to know how to stay out of trouble -- young enough to not always care.

Old enough to make hangovers too easily acquired.

Young enough to still abuse my joints without immediate repercussions.

And as far as I'm concerned, I got to start with three pretty interesting decades.

It's a good age. I'm looking forward to the thirties.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Happy Birthday, and cheers to our first 30 years!