Here we are in the last week of January of the new year, and I’ve written nothing at all for the entire month. I hope you can forgive my negligence; my absence hasn’t been for lack of desire. (I feel the loss more now that so many of you have told me you enjoy these meanderings and miss them when new ones aren’t around. The conscience is a bit easier on you when you think nobody’s paying attention.)

Coming down the homestretch of house construction is a busy time. Since so much detail work is being done now, we are needed on hand to decide what pieces of trim go where, how high bathroom lights need to be, etc., etc. It’s all the little things in a home that you take entirely for granted in daily life, mainly because they work. Well, they work for a reason. There’s an art to the placement of mirrors and lights.

We’ve also been busy with more clearing, this time of the waterfront. That job has been especially satisfying because the water view was what brought us to the property in the first place. By now we’ve cut everything down that needed to be, so that when the water returns to the beach we will have only cat tails and native aquatic flowers to look at. Not bad for a few hours’ slogging through the mud. If you’re interested, here are the pictures of the waterfront (you only need to look at the last 20 or so), and these are of the construction. (Don’t let those 300+ construction photos scare you away. Just go immediately to the last page to see the latest.)

For once, I’m thinking today of something that has nothing to do with housing. It was planted in my mind by an encounter with one of our neighbors-to-be, though, so it is a result of our being here.

It has been dawning on me over the past while that we early Boomers, as much as we’d like to think we changed the world back in the 60s, were really not the monolithic presence we were given to believe by all those Time and Newsweek covers that etched themselves into our brains. The times, our laureate told us, they were a-changin’. The girl pleading for help as she knelt by her injured compatriot at Kent State was a symbol for all of us righteously angry young folk.

But take a look at the reality of 2010. Have the times really “a-changed”? It doesn’t seem to me that they have, or if change has occurred, it isn’t the kind I, for one, had in mind. We may have created a temporary craze for bellbottoms in crazy colors and loosened the nation’s sexual and drug mores. We and those just before us, those born in the late ’30s to early ’40s, also produced incredibly good music, both lyrically and musically. The Age of Aquarius definitely dawned, but sunset came early. The wonderful new world we thought we were creating has not appeared.

What happened?

I’m beginning to think maybe our number wasn’t so great, after all. True, the politically liberal among us were the ones who garnered all the attention back in the day. (The outrageous always steal headlines from the run-of-the-mill.) It could very well be that the media made us legends in our own minds and no one else’s. Others of our cohort, the quieter ones, were busy doing what 20-somethings usually do: getting married and having children, maintsreaming themselves. They were taking their places in suburbia, identifying with their elders. The politically active among them joined YAF (Young Americans for Freedom), wore coats and ties to class and kept their hair short. They saw what was happening on their campuses and in their streets and were either unfazed by all the hoopla, or angered by it, or just didn’t understand it. Their own worlds were as fine as they’d hoped they would be; they were following the paths set down by generations before them, and they weren’t interested in anything else. To make a gross generalization, they are now the Boomers who are fine, thanks, with their own health care and therefore see no reason to change anything for anyone else. They are today’s Republicans. Which brings me back to our new neighbors.

The overriding impression we have had of the people among whom we will be soon be living is that they are as nice and as kind as the day is long, but not very interesting. They’re all about our age, but seem older–I’m 64 and I liken them mentally to my parents. They are all white, all straight and all in late middle-age. At a Christmas party, Steve and I fell into a conversation about movies with one of the women from the neighborhood. She mentioned that she had just discovered “a movie called Harold and…and…” …she couldn’t remember the whole name. “Maude! Harold and Maude! I love that movie,” Steve and I both exclaimed simultaneously. And at the same time we were saying how much we liked the movie, she was saying how weird she thought it was, how she just didn’t understand it at all. It was a bit awkward. This nice lady, with whom I’m sure I’ll be exchanging recipes, is my age or younger, and had never heard of “Harold and Maude,” a movie iconic of its time. Moreover, once she finally saw it, she quit it mid-way because she didn’t get it and evidently had no desire to. This is a reaction I would have expected from either one of my parents, who were born during the first decade of the 20th century. It was something of a comeuppance, however, to see someone of my own generation reacting in the same way.

We’ve been aware for a while now that we will have to make it a special project to find people who are like us as friends once we are settled down here, and, ironically, that the phrase “like us” really means “nothing like us.” As a couple, Steve and I have never lived in such homogeneous surroundings. Our little street in Arlington, Virginia, was a cross-section of that diverse county. We were one of two long-settled gay couples. There were young and older straight married couples who were American black, Hispanic, and African. Columbia Pike, a 5-minute stroll away, offers literally a world of food, almost too much choice. While I lived in Arlington, I worked at the Peace Corps, the most comfortably liberal sliver of the federal government that could be imagined, even when run my conservative administrations. All those years, I was content to believe I was in the mainstream. Now, however, I’m beginning to believe it may have been nothing more than an echo chamber. I was happily surrounded by people who thought the same way I did, and extrapolated my cozy little world to the bigger one at-large.

Now I look at the current American political scene, at Massachusetts replacing a Kennedy of 40 years’ standing in the Senate with a Republican, and I look at my kind-as-can-be new neighbors and I have to wonder. Did so many of my fellow 60s idealists backslide? Have they been bought out by middle class prosperity? Or were there just fewer of us than I thought?