Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Living through history

My future sister-in-law interviewed me this afternoon for a school project, in which she will collect oral histories from three people of different generations, about how they experienced September 11. On the surface level I enjoyed sharing my story - I think most people crave and value being listened to, and for me it was affirming that she believed I had something valuable to say. Recollecting the day also made me misty-eyed, because even though I had no direct connection whatsoever to New York or any of the victims, I think most of us who lived through the day feel some sort of emotional tie because of a sense of national unity.

But I'm not here to talk about September 11. What really struck me was the realization that my sister-in-law is [approximately] the same age now that I was on September 11, and that 15 years ago, she was 2. For her, September 11 has always been "history," which was a bit of an "I'm old" moment for me, much in the same way I like to remind my friend John how old he is whenever he starts talking about the 80s. Or, put a little more sympathetically, whenever someone 15 years my senior mentions Chernobyl or Challenger, both of which happened within months of my birth, and therefore for me have always been "history" of which I have no personal recollection.

It's a fascinating feeling.

For more entertaining adventures in the "I feel old" category, I always recommend reading Beloit College's "Mindset List", which provides "a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." Check out the 2019 list here: https://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2019/


Mom said...

On a 'related' note, when you were younger, a news segment pondered the fact that kids in 4th grade (coincidentally the same year as you were) would grow up to have jobs that didn't yet exist. Hmmm. Did your job exist in 1995-1996?

Jeremy Gustafson said...

Surprisingly, yes, sort of. My previous job (webmaster) was barely starting to exist around that time, though not extensively yet. And my current job (system administrator) definitely existed, though with much earlier types of computers.