16 years separate my youngest sister and i. she was born the summer before my junior year of high school and my friends from two sibling families were in a state of shock. i left home when she was just two. i knew our relationship was my responsibility. she was the recipient of many packages–including her very own pint-sized peanut butter and jelly–phone calls and letters.
several things bind us; genes, piercing blue eyes, dance abilities, laugh… but more than just years separate us. she is a product of the high-tech, high-speed, insta-microwave fast food cyber im emoticon world. her 7th grade life seems light years ahead of mine. i’d faithfully ride my bike to school with my flute strapped on the back but i attended a middle school on the other side of the madison tracks. i had art, student council, musical theater, home ec and pe all as part of my middle school experience. i ran for student body president with a “stormin’ norman” theme of a speech.
“you’ll either win by a landslide or completely bomb” my parents said. i’m not sure if it was a landslide, but i did continue the student council career i had started in third grade. i struggled to break friend barriers formed in kindergarten while i had already started completely over four times before. the fact that i didn’t wear guess jeans, white keds and have an esprit shoulder bag didn’t help matters.
7th grade was also a little boy about our age dying of a very real, very scary and very deadly disease called AIDS. it was a wednesday night as i walked into church for our youth activity and knew that our country was officially at war. fathers of my friends were in the gulf. soldiers came to our classes to talk to us. we packed boxes for the troops on the weekend & we pasted our “desert storm” stickers everywhere we could. despite fear, we felt a unity.
7th grade was my first trip to the nation’s capital and it was an essay on why smart kids don’t do drugs. it was also a chilly arizona morning at the bus stop when all the kids were buzzing about that new song that to me sounded like one by queen. it was full of afternoons with me waiting by my tape deck for my favorite songs to come on the radio so i could hit record, inevitably catching the beginning or end of the dj’s comments. it was also a stress fracture after immitating star search and a very bad perm to make me feel better.
rachel is a 12 year old going on 30. she obsesses about shoes and phone calls and make up. i had mascara when i was her age but i refused to wear it… the make-up phase unfortunately didn’t kick in for me until about sophomore year of high school. she has an mp3 player and a computer. she im’s and myspaces and emails.
to write high school papers i would walk a few streets over to jessica luchenta’s house. or i’d have to use the school computer. technologically things were just different. the email boom hit for me my freshman year of college in the fall of 1996. byu set up kiosks across campus for people to check their email. printed signs posted nearby reminded you that you had only 10 minutes. we would wait and wait in line for our turn, although the only people who emailed us were school friends since most of our families didn’t have the internet yet.
rachel’s computer/internet driving has made her tweenie-self and her tweenie-peers into much older versions. they write in a different language, they are connected to so much more, they consume more. they’re just all around more flashy as i progressively drift more and more out of touch.