Merrimack Valley Year Zero
Here we are, you and I, teetering on a tightrope, gingerly making our way across the chasm to the new decade. Breathe easy. Tread firmly and trust in your balance pole. The bottom is a long way down.
We never had a great name for years 2000-2009. They are most commonly called the aughts, but if you start a conversation with “Back in the aughts …” around the dinner table, you’ll get at least a few puzzled looks. There is still no consensus on the years 2010-2019. The teens? The ’10s? I can’t imagine saying, “Ah, back in the ’10s, I remember when people still used Roombas and we had to program the darn things to snarf up the dirt! Not like now with these nanobrooms.” But we’re going to have to decide on a name and commit to its use. That’s just the nature of language. At a certain point, word must marry thing, or thing will vanish.
The name ’20s is OK to my ears, perhaps because the period after the Great War is still fresh in our cultural memory, evoking the Jazz Age, the Lost Generation, Prohibition and Black Tuesday. We still read some of those writers, talk about those painters, get those haircuts and debate those issues yet resolved, still haunting us.
But to say we’re entering the ’20s somehow just doesn’t sound right yet, perhaps because it’s too close to saying we are about to turn 20 years old.
For me, this is certainly not the case. These days, you can only think of decades as something in the historic past, not as something you experience now. It’s as though the only rivers that ever get names are the ones you’ll never swim in again. It hasn’t always been that way. I remember thinking about the ’80s as the ’80s, the ’90s as the ’90s. Then the digital world exploded and the twin towers collapsed, and we found ourselves somehow lost in time, with even our science fiction more retro than prophetic.
With the blurring of the present and the overabundance of information that came with the internet age, the neat little blocks of 10 we used to impose a pattern on the careening vicissitudes of history collapsed, leaving us with ones and zeroes.
Whatever lies ahead, it seems painfully likely that no one will call it roarin’. Still, to enter the ’20s without a celebration and commemoration seems unjust. Not everyone and everything was blessed to make it this far. Merrimack Valley Magazine, which began in the floating aughts and took hold in the tempestuous media environment of the ’10s now faces its biggest challenges. And possibilities. Hold on to your hat.
After all, a period of transition is not a time to rest and reflect. We need to begin again. There is work to be done.
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org