My Generation Is from Another Country
“So,” he whispers over the phone in a voice like melted chocolate, “how long have you lived here?”
I can imagine his eyes glinting in the starlight, darker than sin and even fuller, and…he has no idea that I used to write romance novels. He’s the epitome of the heroes I used to write about, a healer in his warrior’s uniform with a reluctant heart and a ready kiss. (And, as Maggie used to say, a hard-on a cat couldn’t scratch down.)
“I moved here in December of 1985,” I tell him. For a moment, I remember that season. I’d been out of college for a year or so, was engaged to marry, embarking on a new career, and in the process of buying my first house. It was a time of new starts, in many ways.
For him, too. And that’s when–SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH–he tells me he was in diapers in December 1985. Small diapers. He may actually have taken his first steps by then. We joke about it because he doesn’t want to make me feel “old,” but as surprising as it may sound, it really doesn’t make me feel old. That’s probably because of the way I think of age.
Someone once told me that if our aging parents are sometimes extremely difficult to understand, then remember the time they were born into. In my grandfather’s generation, born a century ago, the n-word was an acceptable term, often spoken with no malice. Women also didn’t have a lot of power, and it used to flabbergast my grandfather that I had the job I did. Sometimes he would ask, “Isn’t there a man who can do that job?” He truly didn’t understand, but a month before he died, when I was asked to testify before Congress on an acquisition reform measure (which was cancelled the day before I was to fly up to D.C.), he was both proud of me and confused. It didn’t make sense in his world, but then, if he came from another time–really another place, another country where common terminology wasn’t a racist slur and where women didn’t go off to try to change the world–then you can see how the communication dis-connect happens between generations. It is easier for me to understand my parents’ generation and their ultra-conservative mindset if I remember they came from another country, the country of those born to their generation in the 1920’s.
The same is true with my children, if I remember that they were born into another country with different traditions, different customs, different music, different styles of dance, different words and phrases and acceptable behavior. I may not understand why they like things a certain way, but I will try to learn more about their country rather than demanding they live in MY country.
I seldom date men over 50 because I don’t enjoy many of the customs of their country, especially when they try to impose those customs on me. I don’t mind visiting, but I don’t want to live there. I know the customs quite well of men born in my own country, but I don’t always like those customs.
It’s interesting to look at someone exactly half my age and see him as a person, as an old soul in a young man’s body, and that he was born in a different country than I was. He has different customs, a different vocabulary, and a different way of thinking, but they’re very intriguing to me. I can’t live in the same country as he does, but I can respect and even adore his customs, and enjoy the hell out of them when I visit.