I was talking to my college students recently about the upcoming election and the staggering fact that these words are currently found in the same sentence: Donald Trump is leading the GOP field. I try to keep my opinions to myself in class while encouraging lively debate, but then someone said, “Well, it kind of sucks that we’re left cleaning up the baby boomers’ mess.”
“Whoa, Nellie,” I said. “Let’s not get blamey. I’m a boomer, and I specifically do NOT recall messing things up for you.”
And my words hit me like a brick – I. Am. A. Boomer. It’s simply something I never identified myself with. But being born in 1962, there were actually two more years of boomers after me. I’m not even the youngest one, although I’m happy that I’m close to it.
And what I’m seeing through these late-boomer eyes is middle age, despite the fact that my kids are still in high school and my hairdresser can often match the red of my youth with some success. I see AARP commercials that actually resonate. And I see boomers at the other end – many of whom are 70 this year – wrestling with retirement and the prospect of potentially 30 more years in a body that is already starting to say, “HEY! ENOUGH ALREADY!”
I see my parents – my mom still life-guarding at 78 and my dad’s thunderous voice still able to raise the hairs on my neck in the right circumstances – facing late-life challenges and navigating the world of Medicaid and Medicare and smart phones, while my kids are beginning to navigate the world of adults, of love and college applications and grades and finances.
And after a blessedly brief dalliance with cancer, I finally am beginning to see myself as an adult, a perspective I’ve been able to dance around for lo, these many years. I am 54 years old, and am looking at the timeline of my life, hopefully, at midpoint. And wondering what in the hell I should be doing. And feeling. And planning.
So I’ll do what I did when I was dating and learning from my mistakes, and raising toddlers and learning from those mistakes, beginning a new career at 45 and learning from THOSE mistakes, and raising teens – you get the idea. I write about it. It’s therapeutic. Cathartic, even. And sometimes, in the writing, a thought emerges that actually makes sense, and I don’t feel so … mistaken anymore.
So, welcome. Pull up a cup of Joe and a pet or two, and join me in A Boom With a View.