Getting old is like being an immigrant in time

I speak good English even though I have an accent, and I spell better than most anglophones. I’ve watched the same Saturday morning cartoons and listened to the same bands as my American colleagues and friends, and sometimes it’s like I share the same culture (even though I also know American history better than a majority of Americans.)

But I don’t. I also share large segments of culture with francophone Europe — France, parts of Belgium and Switzerland, etc. I read the same books, sang the same songs, watched the same movies as my French friends and sometimes it may seem as if we share one culture. But we don’t.

There’s a larger context, a larger culture I can only share with other Québécois. Americans can’t get it, French people can’t get it, even Ontarians probably can’t get it. There’s an entire context that I just can’t explain, you had to be there.

I had a birthday last Friday and I’m not too hung up about aging, because age has brought many good things. But I find that being middle-aged is like being an immigrant in time: I share many things with folks of the generations before and after mine, but we’re not really from the same culture.

I probably share more with the decade and a half or two coming right after me than with people older than me, but eventually we hit the edge of that difference.

Maybe I notice it most when I think of pop music. You can tell I’m old because I still love guitar heroes (the musicians, not the game — another gap). I love to hear that Fender Stratocaster wail. I hate, hate, hate most of what I hear on the Top 40 — though to be fair, I hated a good chunk of the Top 40 in my youth too.

In fact, let’s test this: let’s go check the Top 40 for the first week in June 1984 (25 years ago, my youth). Ew, looks like I hated about two-thirds of it. OK, so maybe I’ve always been cranky…

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