For many of us, especially the “grandparent” class, this was another tense, anxious year. We were still mostly locked inside, waiting for a sign that it’s finally okay to go out and safely enjoy whatever life offers. Because I spend a lot of time talking to people my age or at least in their fifties or beyond, most of us had a similar year.
The other night I commented, casually, to Kaitlin that I hoped next year would be better. She looked startled.
“I had a great year,” she said. That jarred me awake because I had somehow assumed it was the same for everyone. But that isn’t true. It may have been risky for the young, but not the way it was for us.
I suddenly realized we didn’t all have the same year. For Kaitlin and her generation, it was an exciting year with promise for the future. She finished school, found work, found a boyfriend. For the first time, she has the beginning of a fresh new life.
For her — maybe for everyone who is reasonably healthy, young, vaccinated, and busy — it was a year of opportunity. For the first time since I was in my 20s, there are more jobs available than people looking for jobs.
That’s how it was when I was starting out. It made the process of getting a job and advancing in it a whole lot easier. It’s an exciting time to be alive when the world seems to be waiting for you.
We didn’t all have the same year.
We had an “old folks” year. Dealing with age and sometimes fragile health, we were dealing with survival, COVID, and the state of our government and the rest of the world, and the planet.
We are not looking toward a future with opportunities. Those of us with money may still travel, but many of us won’t. Aside from health issues, the quality of airlines and the high discomfort factor of having to sit in a narrow chair with no foot space or even a snack makes a long distance vacations into the kind of adventure we can live without. I didn’t like airports or airlines five years ago, but now the idea of being locked in the cabin full of people who probably don’t have COVID, but for all I know are coming down with the flu or a serious cold is not appealing. I used to get sick on airplanes when I traveled and I was much younger. I have been told they have done some serious cleaning on airplanes. Despite that, all it takes is one coughing sneezing person to spread germs to every susceptible person on the craft, usually me.
Kaitlin isn’t worried about it. She can handle a cold, has all the other vaccinations including flu. For her, life is the beginning of an adventure while we are in an entirely different head space.
What a difference 50 years makes!