Talkin’ About My Generation

It’s only recently dawned on me that my generation—not just Baby Boomer but the older half of that generation—had it easy (unless you were a minority, which is a different story). My lifeline followed the prosperity of this country—starting from the 1950s when an economic and population boom followed the end of World War II. Housing was cheap, and my parents’ generation was flocking to the suburbs, where new subdivisions were being quickly built on what was farmland. I recall that my parents paid $15,000 in 1956 for the house where they raised our family. (Of course, everything was cheaper then; when I was in college, I remember working at office jobs where I was paid $2/hour.)

For my generation, college was affordable (I recall paying around $2,000 a semester), and jobs were plentiful after graduation. I didn’t have to worry about student debt, because my parents, even with seven children, were able to pay the tuition.

My father was a firm believer in the stock market, and his investments grew throughout the decades, with only a few blips here and there. He also saw the benefit of buying property—a few acres here and a few acres there when he had the money—which also accrued value as the decades passed.

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Making Choices in the Pandemic

I have friends who are playing golf and enjoying happy hour, and friends who won’t leave the house until a vaccine is found for Covid-19. Just as the virus reveals the fault lines between those who take responsibility and those who seem oblivious to the threat—seen most easily in those who wear masks and those who refuse—I’m also seeing the different safety thresholds in friends and acquaintances.

It feels like everyone needs to make their own decision, weighing the inherent or possible risks against the rewards. You take into account your health but also your comfort level. For some people feeling secure is the most important factor, while others, like me, need to be out in the world. Stuck inside, I can easily fall into dark thoughts. Outside, even if just a walk around the block, my mind opens up and experiences other worlds besides the claustrophobic one inside my head.

But it’s a different decision for everyone. I have friends who are staying inside and enjoying what they call the “monastic” life—quiet, contemplative and simple. For introverts, the pandemic is proving to be a legitimate reason not to be social.  

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The Last Time

Of course, we don’t know it’s the last time. It’s only in the future that we’ll look back and think that was the last time I hiked the six miles to the alpine lake or the last time I got together with friends at our favorite watering hole. During this pandemic, a restaurant that had become an institution in town closed permanently, and I think of the last time I had drinks and tapas there with friends—a place we had been hanging out at since we all worked together at the newspaper across the street (which also is no longer there), more than 30 years. It’s hard to imagine that a place that came to symbolize good times with good friends is gone forever.

When I first moved to Colorado, I learned how to downhill ski (back when lift tickets were $15 and lift lines were almost nonexistent), and for at least 30 years, it was one of the great pleasures of my life. I loved surveying the world from on top of the mountain, floating through the powdery snow and afterward enjoying a burger and beer as well as the pure pleasure of feeling physically exhausted.

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