By Scott King
“That’s the best thing about millennials.”
“They keep getting younger, but I stay the same age.”
From Dazed and Confused, Part II: Millennials Approaching
I turn 37 next week. That number on paper looks painfully naive.
Because it is.
The older I get, the younger I feel. I was the oldest I will ever be when I was a teenager. I had such gravity. I had such angst. And those hormones.
When I got out of college, I felt like a very dumb baby. As a bonus, I was at that point responsible for feeding myself, for cleaning the house and for making a living somehow.
Then I hit my Saturn Return. I moved to Vermont for grad school and ruled the world. Any shyness or fetal shell I had holding me back was left in the debris of liftoff into the rocket ship of adulthood.
A lot of energy is focused on you during your Saturn Return. That’s why so many rock stars die at 27. They can’t take the heat. They flame out. Dust to dust.
It’s better to rise than fade away. That’s what the Widow Cobain told us in the 90s. I was fortunate to thrive during my SR. It was like one of those booster pads in Mario Kart. I skidded through right into my 30’s, part of me thinking I was the shit, part of me scared shitless. Regardless of the ups and downs, it’s ten years later, and I’m still here, damnit.
A good portion of the detritus that populates my life at this existential moment, I COULD have imagined it ten years ago. I was planning for it. It makes sense. It represents the accomplishment of goals.
Other things, like writing for this magazine, weren’t in my plan or even my dreams ten years ago. I was in law school, working for post-conviction relief for poor people in Vermont. I was mourning the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and staring at the cracks in the glass ceiling.
So many cracks. Dennis Kucinich was the sole left-wing candidate who supported same-sex marriage ten years ago. Barack Obama didn’t. Hillary Clinton didn’t. Bernie Sanders had just been elected to the US Senate. I voted for him. In 2006. Ani Difranco was so proud.
What does all of this have to do with my birthday? Nothing, except for the fact that my birthday wish, close your eyes and blow, is for all of us to remain engaged in the political process and not become disheartened, pessimistic or unnecessarily antagonistic towards those who do not support our goals.
We didn’t repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by calling John McCain hegemonic. We did not get to marriage equality by trolling RuPaul on Twitter. We did not get to where we are, or at least where we were before Donald Trump ascended to the center of public life, by segregating and walling off ourselves into the smallest subculture possible so that we could be right and self-righteous about everything. And be the sole authority on every issue that is important to us.
Things look bleak. Things look petty. Things look like we’re moving backwards.
But think about it. Barack Obama survived the Tea Party Movement and the birther movement and all the bullshit that accompanied the 21st Century’s first progressive president, and first African American leader of the free world.
The next Democratic President, whether she is progressive enough or not, will do some mighty righteous things. Obama pushed things way forward, way past most of what Bush did.
In 10 years, I can imagine:
Various states and then every state and then the federal government requiring access to non-gendered bathrooms in all public facilities.
Me being married. To a man. And it still being legal.
A female President. Most likely Republican.
The daughter of a Clinton or an Obama running for office. And fucking winning.
An LGBT Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Or at least a Minority Whip.
Me publishing a novel about a hooker with a heart of Bitcoin.
The media coming up with a label for the generation of 20-somethings that I see at my gym and me being all like, “Shouldn’t you be in class?”
But the question remains. Will ever act my age? Nah.