The Times They Have A Changed

Some milestones in life seem daunting until you realize, usually during them, that the anticipation of the moment was worse than the moment itself. Childbirth springs to mind, as do pre-wedding jitters. One’s first driving test. A first day on the job or on campus. What we do, customarily, is get through it–whatever “it” is.

Sometimes, though, a defining moment appears unanticipated.

I experienced three over the recent Thanksgiving break. My wife and I, along with our youngest son and younger daughter, traveled to Eugene, Oregon to celebrate the holiday with our oldest child and older daughter.

As you may know, Oregon recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana. A green neon cross designates the places where pot is sold–my wife and I saw several on a long cross-town ramble–and one merely furnishes proof of being at least 21 years old before the transaction occurs. There are, apparently, many varieties to choose from–according to our youngest son. I–having smoked more than a fair share in my salad days, and having long since given it up–was mildly curious. Our son, however, was keen to take advantage of this new opportunity. He wanted, he said, the strongest stuff he could buy–so out he bicycled, into a rainy night, seeking the closest dispensary.

He failed, thereby obviating his need of it.

But the first moment came a few nights later. Having finally succeeded, our son showed us his purchases (one can scarcely say “stash” in these circumstances) and proceeded directly to the front porch to smoke them in plain sight. The sky did not fall. The world did not end. Good for you, Oregon. If nothing else, I hope the whole thing is a shot in the arm for your tax base.

Later that night, as we sat talking with our kids and their friends, the topic of Tinder came up. I still don’t know what Tinder is, so I take their word that it’s a dating website. That might be putting it mildly, but I wouldn’t know–my wife and I have been married longer than Christ was alive. The thing is, though, when Grinder tangentially entered the conversation, the kids were dismayed. Grinder, according to them, is the gay equivalent of Tinder. This may have put me even further out to sea, but the kids were firmly grounded. Why, they wondered, couldn’t there just be one website for everyone?

There’s a moment for you. Tom Brokaw can have his ridiculous “Greatest Generation.” I say ridiculous because to my mind the greatness of the United States is that you could plug any of our generations into the Depression and World War II and arrive at the same result. The greatness lies not with the generation, but with the country. So I’ll take the kids’ generation. Sure, they may be stoned–but they’re the future. And they’re tolerant.

If only we could get them to vote!

The reason we went to Eugene for Thanksgiving–as opposed to hosting it here ourselves–is that our oldest bought himself a house there. Ten years ago he enrolled at the University of Oregon; he may have yet to finish, it’s true, but he leapfrogged the diploma and bought a house. And while I prefer he would graduate, I’m proud of this development. In some ways, it even obviates the need of a degree.

Sitting in his house, sharing the Thanksgiving dinner, I realized that the torch had been passed. In 2013, our older daughter was married, but that was something we hosted–and more properly felt like an event in her life. But at Thanksgiving we were guests. I didn’t so much as open a can of cranberry sauce.

I have seen the future, and it is doable.


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