When Two Friends Make Contact

… when I least expect it, my whole world kinda goes askew — or maybe my world was askew and I didn’t know it until they contacted me.

Both were good news — very good news, which gave me a belated opportunity to say, “Congratulations, woman!” to both of them for different grown-up milestones: one for a kid-on-the-way, another for a Ph.D. that was a long time coming; two things that I wish for myself someday.

And I suppose what makes my world askew is that both things, the kid and the Ph.D., are milestones that many years have passed. Now, as my readers can tell by this blog, I look to my past a lot. I can’t help it — personality traits reinforced with my education as a student of narrative works all work towards me looking at history, both personal and otherwise, as a way of understanding the present and predicting — hazily but reasonably — the future. But I still feel that odd unexpected sensation — like the feeling you get when you think your next step is on level ground but in fact there’s another step down, and so you catch yourself before you fall — when faced with the raw numbers of time passing. It’s June 5, 2005, and I still can’t get used to that fact that it’s the 21st century and what that entails.

I remember reading about people being born during the American Reconstruction Era after the Civil War — the late 1860s and 1870s — and how their life fundamentally changed with the 20th century, which, in my head, has always been marked by wars: The Spanish-American War of 1898; those folks were in their early 30s. World War I, when they were in their 50s. World War II, when they were in their 70s. The Korean War, when they were in their 80s. And if they lived long enough, the Vietnam War, when they were hitting their century mark. From the last days of the cavalry charge to the fighter jet. How the folks born in the 1860s must’ve felt to live long enough to see all of that, hopefully live long enough to see the man on the moon in 1969.

And it’s the same thing with me, born during the tail end of the Vietnam War; the last Cold War generation, seeing the Wall come crumbling down; the rise of the terrorist wars, culminating in Gulf War I in 1991 and — after 9/11 — Gulf War II in 2003. What will the world be like in my 50s, 70s, and 90s, I have no clue, but hopefully I’ll live long enough to see manned explorations of the solar system, perhaps during my century mark. If not me, then hopefully my children or my grandchildren, and I hope that something I do — big or small — during my lifetime will make that day possible.

All of these things occur to me, just because two friends unexpectedly made contact the other day.

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