It's Saturday, March 13, 2021 and it's officially a full year since I, personally, have been on lockdown due to Covid. Everyone has their own March start date, I'm sure.
Today I've been deep diving into The Smiths, my beloved band that seemed to understand the power of a misfit's heart. (Yes, let's skip the racist, sexist, prick that Morrissey has turned in to and remember The Smiths in their youth and mine).
It all started with a Facebook post this last week. A friend from school posted something on her FB page about how Boomers and Gen Xers aren't vulnerable and sharers like Millenials . . . long story -- anyway, I've repasted my Facebook Post below that responded to hers. And I just got to thinking about me and all my fellow Gen Xers.
I'm turning 50 this year.
My entire 40's I've kind of hidden my exact age and danced around it but yes, I'm 49 and in 7 months I'm turning 50.
Well, yeah, so listening to all my favorite Smiths albums (all of them) reminds me of that sweet, tender girl in the 80's with Doc Marten duck shoes and thick tights and wrinkled mini skirts and big dreams.
I guess as you get older you just kind of make peace with the person you thought you'd become and the person you actually are.
My creative writing professor from community college died in January -- I just found out from his partner on Facebook. He was a mentor and a kind of doting uncle since he knew my parents weren't around and I was pretty much on my own renting a room above a hair salon and trying not to die.
Those years working two jobs and taking classes and riding the bus and hoofing it home at 2am -- I didn't know what the fuck I was going to do with my life . . . I had music, I had poetry, I had hairspray, I had friends who loved music and poetry and hairspray too, and we were a tribe.
Thank God for them. And the Smiths. And my teacher.They saved me. And -- I saved myself.
Here's that Facebook post I promised you:
GEN X SAVES THE WORLD
I posted a response to something on a friend’s feed and I think it was deleted... but it really struck a chord with me so I’m redrafting it here. The initial post was from someone asking what others thought about Millenials finding it so easy to “over share” in professional and school settings about their private lives, and my friend screen capped this and responded with a post sharing that the question should be flipped, and instead we should ask why “boomers and Gen x don’t share” even when the information “seems essential” and suggested it was because we had so little opportunity for interpersonal communication growing up, which just shot a lightening bolt through me. Because first.... the boomer bashing is getting over done... but also please don’t group Gen X with Baby Boomers. And then I offered something like this as a response— I consider Gen X the invisible forgotten generation— the original latch-key kids left to fend for ourselves while our parents partied, divorced, became cocaine addicts, etc. Our generation has built the least amount of personal wealth because many baby boomers never retired and instead worked an extra 15 or 20 years totally screwing our generation’s ability to claim any of those now-disappeared middle class jobs... And by the time boomers did retire, millennials were ALSO in line for those jobs. And you know what? We had plenty of interpersonal connection and communication with each other— often finding our tribe with our own misfit friends instead of relatives. We learned from Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street how to be kind...we grew up when cocaine and crack and mass gentrification tore up neighborhoods and communities, and then we entered our 30s in time for the opioid crisis to take what was left of those communities. We took out way too many student loans (except for the riches who are us but had more). We grew up during the AIDS crisis when sharing who you are, where you”re from and who you love could get you unhired or fired, denied an apartment or a promotion, or even beaten and left for dead. We are the MTV generation that barely had cable, still had shared TV experiences, and had time where we had to entertain ourselves ... and we used that down time to make music and art and read lots of books and poems and invent worlds and we knew how to make connections with others wherever we could find them. We had the first video cameras recording things for mass consumption for the first time, so we learned the power of putting people’s lives on public display....sometimes it inspired world change and sometimes it got somebody dead...and when we needed a break we had the magic of the Walkman and headphones first... and the beauty of the lost art of the Mix Tape.— which took hours of careful planning and recording and taping and was such a personal, heart-connecting token to give someone... We maybe don’t share all our bullshit except with our trusted misfit tribes because we learned that serious things happened if you shared too much publicly... even in small circles.......but we are a deeply feeling, deeply empathetic and compassionate generation skipped over for so much and often not seen for the stability and strength we brought to national discourse on GLBT rights (back then... you’re welcome.) — acceptance— and we are the hip hop generation and the fxminyst generation asking questions about race, class, and equality that laid the groundwork for so much happening now. We actually actively reckon with ourselves and then make change to move the needle. The pandemic has revealed (in my opinion) that Gen X is a strong and metacognitive and reflective generation able to creatively problem solve and able to sit in silence and able to think and connect in ways that later generations may be finding more challenging. We may not be shouting from the rooftops but we are here holding down the fort. That’s what I think. I also see Gen X as the generation able to tolerate and carry so much and hold so much on our shoulders... Go ahead and ignore us— we are still here. We just don’t care about the drama. We’ve got more important things to do— like write a few poems, put on a great vinyl, curl up with some comic books, connect with our friends on a phone call, hit the waves at sunrise, or even just stare out the window and listen to the rain at 4am. We don’t have to be the center of everything, and there’s so much you can get done if you don’t care about getting credit for it. And we have. And we do. Gen X has a shared culture— and that’s connection— that’s real human beings just hanging out and getting by. That’s what matters. Yeah.