I have a new housemate who is 8 years younger than I am, and I am really enjoying the experience. When I first moved in with roommates into a cooperative and/or community living situation, I was the young one, the one they had to reassure themselves of my maturity and put-together-ness. Our new housemate is a little younger than I was then, and it is fascinating to me to find that I have added a few notches on the life experience bed post.
One of the things I heard Gloria Steinem say recently was that older folk should invite more younger folk into their lives, it will keep us all young and help the young folk with getting started resources and some anecdotal experience (all my words, not hers, she used different language for what I interpret to be the same idea). Since I have always been one of the "younger folk," I have not had a chance to turn around and see the other side of the experience.
Talking with my new roommate has really helped put a lot of things into perspective. Hearing what she is thinking, talking about some of the gender and authoritarian dynamics she is contending with, discussing paganism and what I think the basics are and what is really important versus the formulas out there, etc. has really helped show me how much I have matured and grown up. I find myself saying things like, "I understand exactly what you mean, when I was about your age, I went through this, and it helped me learn this," and in response she nods her head enthusiastically, finding my experience to be informative to her situation. In the process, I am informed about the fact that my experiences, as unique as I thought they were at the time, are actually not special snowflakes and can be useful, interesting, and entertaining.
I have also noticed how we both move through time differently. She says, I want to learn about this, and then goes out the next day to talk with someone I suggested as a resource. I would have taken a week or two. She speaks of important events in her life history in terms of months ago, like last June or last fall, instead of living in terms of this year, last year, or four years ago, like I do. I see the benefits of both. Personally, I am very glad to be on a year-based cycle, because there is a wholeness to the cycle of the year that really works for my psyche. At the same time, I appreciate her quickness and feel inspired to move more quickly on some of my own processes.
All told, I am very excited about this whole experience and the benefits of our new friendship. Gloria Steinem was right. Again.