Today is my birthday. Really, on the calendar, it's just one of the 365 days of the year, but I like to use it as a day of reflection for what has happened and where I'd like to go next.
On Matt's birthday, I mentioned my parents' frantic rush to the hospital. That was not an exaggeration. My mom had had a long labor with my brother, who is 19 months older than me. When her water broke at 12:15, she figured she still had plenty of time, so she changed, finished packing, got my brother ready, then she and my dad headed for the hospital at about 1:00--a half hour ride. By the time they arrived between 1:25 and 1:30, my dad was pretty sure I was going to be born on the front seat of his brand new Mercury. As it was, I was born at 1:34--my dad was still checking my mom in, so when they came to tell him, he hadn't made it to the waiting room. It took him another several hours before he actually found out.
I've also found out that birthdays can be lessons in current events. I have two friends that I'll call Pete and Mike because, well, their names are Pete and Mike. I remind them every year that my birthday is coming up, and I wait patiently for my gift. This year, I found out what typically happens. From an email exchange yesterday:
Pete: I sent Mike $50. He was going to buy the gift and send it.
Mike: By the time I paid for gas and stamps, there was no money left for the gift.
How true is that? This is my second 24th birthday. The picture up top is of me in kindergarten--I still look pretty much the same; just older and significantly larger. As my friend Michelle reminds me (often), I am older than dirt. Of course since dirt is constantly being made, that's all relative. I am also officially middle-aged since I intend to live at least as long as my grandmother did, and she was 96 when she passed last year. I had the pleasure of listening to stories of her life while travelling with her a few years back, and it was amazing what she had lived through. But in thinking about what has transpired in my less than half a century, the world has certainly changed as well. Here's a snapshot of what I have lived through (not that I remember some of the early stuff!):
- The Cuban Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs invasion. I actually recall a drill in the bomb shelter when I was in 3rd grade.
- The Kennedy assassination
- The space race and all the joys and sorrows (landing on the moon, the explosion of the shuttle and the earlier explosion of the capsule containing Gus Grissom)
- The VietNam war, Gulf War, War in Iraq
- Civil rights protests--I've mentioned that I lived in Detroit (city proper) during the '68 riots
- Watergate; Iran contra
- Disco; preppies; yuppies
When I was a kid, we had a black and white console TV with rabbit ear antennas (I think I was 13 when we got our first color set, and cable became more common when I was in college). We got the 3 network stations, one UHF station (channel 50), and because we were close to Canada, we got the CBC, which came in handy for watching Hockey Night in Canada. You had to get up to change the channels. There were no VCRs or TiVO--if you missed the program, you could hope for re-runs. Phones had rotary dials. Cars didn't have seatbelts in the back seats, and there were no shoulder belts (or air bags or ABS). There were no personal computers--journals were the surrogate for blogging, and no one wanted to share what was in their journal! Music was on vinyl; 45's were king. There were plenty of drive-ins--food and movie (which were fun when I was in high school, lol). We had to do math by hand--calculators were expensive. I did NOT have to walk uphill both ways for 5 miles through snow to get to school. That was my parents (and probably yours).
I can't wait to see what changes the next 50 years holds for me!