It's incredibly difficult for me to believe that the end of November is already at hand. It seems as though 2010 just got kicked off, and now we're looking at the last month of the year beginning in just a few short hours. I can still remember being nearly aghast that 2000 was upon us and not truly believing that we were going to have to start our dates with "20__" after growing up with "19__". Remember Y2K? So do I, and I think we all believed that that would cause a major computer meltdown unless the old COBOL programmers/software engineers who were drawn out of retirement could fix the issue with the older systems we all thought controlled a lot of the basic infrastructure of the world. I think when midnight struck on January 1, 2000, and nothing happened, we all said a silent prayer for those aging veterans because we figured they'd already solved everything by the start of the holidays and were happily luxuriating back at home, close to a toasty fire and their loving relatives. Or maybe a couple of them were in New York City, taking advantage of the special occasion by dining with their loved ones at a fancy restaurant (with a view) called Windows of the World. Sounds familiar? It should be if you're old enough to remember the news reports on 9/11[/2001], when a little NYC landmark called the World Trade Center was attacked by two hijacked planes and the Windows of the World came tumbling down.
I can remember hearing about that news report primarily when my dad, who was at home after having retired and then being told he had stage 4 renal cell carcinoma, woke me (still a college student) up and told me about some planes attacking the World Trade Center. At that time I was groggy and thought he was talking about some movie he was watching that looked exciting to him, so I humored him and turned it to the channel he said for me to turn it to. That day I stayed home from school, and Mom came home from work (where she was under contract after having retired from the same place) at noon and we all stayed home together, the four of us (including my beloved dog C). Now my dad and C are both gone from the world, my mom stopped working when the contract ran out and Dad had to go through dialysis, I've had a lot of health issues to deal with, and we moved from that house where we all huddled together watching Peter Jennings (how can it be that he's gone?) telling us what was happening in NYC, at the Pentagon, and that remote field in Pennsylvania, over to a house in a neighborhood I'd yet to visit as of 2001. So much has changed within the span of a decade, yet it hardly feels like it's even been a year since the start of 2000, when the world was normal and bland and I took a lot of things for granted. Now I would kill for the simplicity of that year.
In about a month we're going to have to start getting used to writing out "2011" for our year. How futuristic does 2011 sound? When I think of 2011 I imagine flying hovercars darting across the sky, special remotes that allow you to order up anything with a few clicks, drive-through grocery shopping pods, and pills that can help you live forever. Certain aspects of everyday contemporary life are futuristic -- now it's possible to work from home, confer face to face with people from around the world via computer, use a web browser to point and click and order most things one would want, phones that you can stick in your purse or pocket that can make and send phone calls and do so much more than that (from taking pictures and videos to accessing the Internet), personal computers that are infinitely more powerful than the warehouse-size computing behemoths of the 1960s and '70s (back when my parents were already married!), portable gadgets that can give you audible directions to wherever you're going, commercial-free radio stations that are accessible throughout the nation and with a push of a button, etc. But in many ways, this still feels very similar to the way life felt ten years ago, which felt very similar to the way life felt ten years before that, and so on. There's an old cliche that says, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," and that comes to mind. Perhaps that will be said about 2019 melting into 2020, or 2029 melting into 2030. We'll all be older and things will seem a lot cruder and a hell of a lot more fast-paced. Slowly the teens of today will grow older and see life from the perspective of someone my age, and I will slowly come to realize life from the perspective of someone my mom's age. People in general will seem younger and older loved ones will fade away before my eyes. I won't be able to pick out the world of my youth, but it will still feel very similar.
In just two more hours, it will be December 1, 2010. My mom will turn 65 in two weeks and my beloved grandfather would be 103 (if he were still living) in about a week. In about a month my grandma would've been 98. In the middle of next year we will commemorate eight years since I lost my father. The children who were the age I was when my grandfather passed at the same time that I lost my father will be turning 17 next year and looking forward to their senior years of high school. Life continues on and we are powerless to stop that from happening, yet with each passing year comes a new opportunity to re-engineer our lives. Goodbye November 2010 -- it was real. Hello December 2010 -- what do you hold for me?