A Place In Time
Don’t I know you?
When 60’s radicals meet today, we recognize each other. There is a pattern in the fabric of our souls that was woven in a special time in history, one that we provided the threads for and helped to design, that, though covered up by years of life and hairs of grey, we still see shining brightly in each other’s eyes when we speak of the old days or even debate the current state of politics in our world. Our world-view is consistent, still, though decades have ensued and life has exacted its various tolls on us all.
I was invited to a dinner recently by a childhood friend I have kept in peripheral contact with through the ensuing years. It was hosted and attended by a gathering of college friends of hers and Betsy was the only person at the table I had known before this evening.
As the wine flowed and the food heaped on the groaning board, the conversation never lagged. Animated, agitated, punctuated by laughter and tales of times long past the camaraderie was easy, organic and instantaneous.
We knew each other.
We recognized each other though we had never met and our only link was this one, mutually-shared, dear friend and comrade throughout time.
As I looked around the table I was struck by the ease of discourse, the flow of ideas, the sense of well being and of safe place that we were all sharing, so quickly and with such easily accessed facility.
We knew each other.
Though we had never met and had traveled as many different paths as there were people at the table to each reach this sparkling gem of an evening, we were one in a place in time that was long gone yet still omnipresent to each of us there.
I actually spoke my feelings there, mouth stuffed with bounty and head and heart full of the kind of shared input that harked back to many such evenings of my youth around many other tables with many other friends.
“I feel like I’ve known you all for years!”
There was instant agreement by all.
“It seems like we’ve always known you! Where have you been all these years?”
While I was tempted to credit Bets entirely with this emerging miracle of new friendship I was also cognizant of the fact there was something more, something deeper, at the root of this resurgence of 60’s and 70’s bonhomie we were all in the throes of.
As I pondered the phenomenon later, it began to gel in my mind that this connection, this soul-security, was a product of a generationally shared experience. A history that we all, of a certain age and time, had traversed together…and yet apart.
Was it Vietnam?
Each of us had protested, railed, demanded justice for our world and ourselves, all in a shared public forum that stretched across our country and our globe.
Was it sex, drugs and rock and roll?
We all came of age in an extraordinary time in culture that defined a generation, our generation, by a common shared revolution that forged our very natures as different; different from our parent’s generation by leaps and boundaries, different from succeeding generations by virtue of ours being the first, the formative, the precursor to all such angst-driven coming of age themes that would be engendered in the layers that followed us.
Was it the post-war largesse into which we had been born?
We certainly had all benefited greatly from the post apocalyptic world we were reared in, full of toys, cars, homes free of the monetary struggles our parents had had to endure.
Only with the luxury of time and the historical perspective that that, and our educations, has provided us with, are we able to glance back over our collective shoulders and really examine what our place cards in history mean; to us….and to the world around us.
We knew we were going to change the world.
And we did.
How the world would differ had we not is a question better left to time and others with more complex analytic skills than myself but it goes without saying that the Summer of Love began a cascade of events and shifts in cultural and societal mores and emotions that forever altered the landscape of social and political interaction thereafter.
The women’s movement, the loosening of chastity belts on a generation of hormonal teenagers, the ability to question….and demand answers from, our elders and those who had wielded the power for generations, had the chilling and thrilling effect of making the world stop in place and question the questioners.
After all the strum and drang was over, we had a more just, more equal, more integrated (in all senses of that freighted word) society, a society which continued to amalgamate and engender more and more changes which would have been unheard of a mere ten years before.
Gay rights? Unheard of.
Premarital sex? Unspoken if not unheard of.
Watergate? Fallible politicians, a fact in all of history but now a crime that actually held consequences.
Along with the advent of the publicly accessible jet age and the 24 hour news cycle, our world opened and expanded as never before in history. The arc of change was astounding and we, the latter-day hippies of old were sure then we were the harbingers of a New World Order, much the way the Free Masons had ordained as they finagled their way into the formation of this country we now call home.
And now, in the age of conspiracy theories and mass murders, amidst the endless backdrop of the CNN loop that is our world, we are all at an age where our parents, at this point in their lives, were already well on their way to what we considered old.
Yet we are not.
There are certainly correlations and chronologies that stand up to time and tendonitis but our core, our soul, that tenuous, vibrant and vibrating filament that we plucked when we were 16, still hums with the Hendrixian wail that defined us then and affirms us now.
So when we meet in orbits I feel are somehow pre-ordained yet are maybe just a happenstance of our collective ages……..
We know each other.
And we like the feeling that this elicits in us and we cherish the memories that make us what we are today.