Our parents were kids when
JFK and Martin Luther King were shot.
They grew up when everything was changing and then
suddenly it wasn’t and it was all
stereos and Dallas,
like dragging a corpse around a party
and getting a sequel.
In elementary school,
we saw 9/11 on our
family’s tv screens.
We didn’t really understand it,
but both mom and dad came to
pick us up from school that day.
In middle school,
the housing market crashed.
Suddenly we’d go to a friend’s house and
their dad would be home in the middle of the
day. People’s parents started getting divorced.
We thought our parents might too, when they
fought about money and each other and nothing.
They called it the Great Recession,
and we only saw the black and white picture from our history textbook of
sad-looking people dressed in rags, waiting in line for bread.
We weren’t waiting in line for bread,
but our friends started swapping clothes instead of
going to the mall. Some people moved–
We didn’t really understand it.
In high school,
they taught us about climate change.
We found out that it existed and that
we were to blame for it in the same breath,
the children of the millennium a thick layer of
plastics that should have been recycled on top of a
mountain of garbage and dog shit.
We were told the planet is dying, and
we didn’t really understand it.
We tried to get our parents to start a compost heap,
but they didn’t go for it.
One girl always tried to kill herself.
innocent students got murdered,
innocent elementary school kids got murdered,
innocent people got murdered,
and some old white guys wouldn’t let us get rid of
assault rifles. And they won.
we learned that we are powerless, and
we walked quickly past the guy asking us to
sign a petition about water or
corruption or financial aid or whatever,
because we were going to be late for class.
we learned that no one else has ever had to
pay this much to go here, and that no one
else has ever gotten so little reward for doing it.
We didn’t, and we still don’t really understand it.
We’re breaking ourselves off into
a million mosaic directions and leaving bits of us in our
Instagrams, in our internships.
We’re tired, always tired, and
we’re never doing enough. We’re the first
generation of human beings to grow up with
laptops, iPods, cell phones.
We don’t know what that means, and
neither does anybody else. In two hundred years,
they’ll look at pictures of us in a history book,
and laugh. The desperate confusion in the backs of our pupils,
the memes, the trance music. They’ll laugh, even if they
don’t really understand us.