Part 10: The Evolution of Generation X

I would have been impossible. If I had been born twenty years later, I would have been very close to being impossible. The ocean child here, leaving behind the crescent and the aquamarine, shuffling to the unknown with my scaly knees, slicked down with dirt and seaweed, sucking down milk from a lid that contained some dangerous bacteria, learning to walk while staring into the door of an unpaved cave, crawling, gliding, climbing, sinking back up and down, watching rocks on a beach which I mistook for the back of a pile of driftwood, crawling over broken barnacles – now you have a glimpse of what the future looked like – toward the decades two to four million years ago.

Cynthia Covert read “Generation X,” written in 1979 and now celebrating its 30th anniversary. And Cynthia Covert has spent that time:

Digging for fossils in China and Cambodia

Fighting for civil rights for black Americans

Founding the US Women’s Soccer League and other businesses

Driving a cab and getting a divorce in her teens and twenty-fives

Studying painting in graduate school

Starring in a PBS series

Becoming a mother at 39, a grandmother at 52

Causing a scandal at age 74 by removing her breast tissue for a skin-lightening product

A wave of interest in her work…

Now, Covert laughs at the strange poster she was left with at this office 30 years ago. A photo of her pre-retirement and post-retirement looks as if she has been pumping. She looks more mature in the poster now, but the pictures probably prove she has never aged a day. She seems comfortable with who she is.

Why, in 1979, was a book about Millennials so startling? It was impossible for me to imagine that I would become what the book describes of:

A generation of geeks, bohemians, club kids, mod cons, rockers, gung-ho misfits, consumers, nerds, trend setters, hungover hippies, and angry feminists of the nineties

A generation with a large, complicated expectation of contentment and success from society

One that suffers from cultural inferiority complexes and rampant anxiety over gender and sex relations

We were an anger-tolerant, avant-garde, not particularly cooperative, hard-to-manage group. On-coming technology and inaccessibility added more turmoil to a confusion.

Yet, Generation X seems to have helped the United States secure itself for the next century. Covert concludes, “We will have and influence on the next stage of the human condition, which is and will remain unforeseeable.”

Indeed, no writer has done a better job of examining the turbulent future that will be left to us.

Denis Moynihan may be reached at [email protected]

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