21 August, 2010


The road is narrow, serpentine, and flanked on both sides by vineyards and pastoral bliss. But it's also got another plus point: for about 3 km it travels along the border between Austria and Slovenia, maintaining a perfect tightrope balance between two very different worlds separated by culture, language, history, politics and every other barrier that humans can think of to separate ourselves into distinct groups.

Even after 20 years of travel, border crossings still fascinate me. I turned to S and B in the back seat: "Hey guys! Check this out! We're driving along the border! Daddy and S are in Austria and B and I are in Slovenia! How cool is that?!!"

They are not impressed. In this vacation alone they will have visited 7 different countries. To them crossing a border just means a trip away from whatever swimming pool we happen to be camping next to that particular week.

S and B are the ultimate global citizens and the world is truly their village. They were born to a generation for whom the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union are only vague, abstract concepts. Thanks to the Schengen Treaty we barely even slow down when passing a border checkpoint.

I keep noticing that their view of the world is much more fluid than mine. This manifests itself in so many ways, even right down to the language that they speak. They can start a sentence in one language and end it in another, switching effortlessly right along with their train of thought. This flexible, borderless mentality is completely organic, and it fascinates me. S and B have such a huge advantage in this limitless way of thinking, but part of me thinks it's a little sad that they miss out on the tiny thrill I still get whenever I pass over into new frontiers...


Goofball said...

yep a different generation

at least when I was a little kid, the borders were not open so my parents could officially "smuggle" cheap Spanish liquor in the country and my sister and I always had to "sleep" at the border crossing as the custom officers didn't like waking up little kids. We looked so innocent :p

anno said...

this makes me sad in a way... hard to imagine a generation growing up without a collection of passport stamps to compare (at least in Europe). Seems like another reflection of the 24/7 culture: how do we make sacred time? how do we notice change in space? Interesting this fluency in adapting to change that you've noticed in your sons... wonder what that says about possible answers to my questions.

Betsy said...

Anno, that's exactly along the same lines that I've been thinking lately!

I'm fighting a losing battle against the fragmentation on which S and B's generation seems to thrive. They spend their allotted computer / tv time playing games while watching the news and chatting with friends. It's a totally different world and it leaves me completely perplexed.

I think it's also so surprising for me because they're so young and this is a relatively new habit that seems to be spinning out of control. M is a couple of years ahead of them-- I'm guessing she's probably already an old hand at multitasking?