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The New Decade

by Emily Williams

January 9,2010

The month of January is commonly associated with grey skies and weather bearing a general slushiness. After the New Year celebrations, the excitement quickly dies down and we return to the monotony of our work schedules and wait impatiently for the glorious, sun-sparkling revelations of spring (or Valentine’s Day, at least!). But as we march on into 2010, this month may just be a little bit more reflective. This isn’t just a new year, it’s a new decade – the first to pass of the 21st century.

For me personally, the ‘00s of this century have been memorable and significant, as I went to college, worked my first job, got married and loved every minute of it. I have savored watching my generation grow and begin to make their cultural mark on history, even if I’ve cringed and condemned its behavior at times. Collectively, we all have experienced and taken something out of the last ten years. There have been monumental achievements, inevitable failures and plenty of joy. Nothing new, you might say, for any time in our history. Yet I think we will all agree that this decade saw some rather unprecedented events, which will leave indelible impressions on our memories.

• September 11th, 2001:

The World Trade Center was the target of a bombing in 1993 and the U.S. was directly attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941 – but never before were hijacked planes flown into downtown Manhattan, which resulted in a war that is still continuing nine years later. It resulted in stricter flying regulations, heightened airport precautions that would have been unheard of 24 hours before and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. If that isn’t a turning point in American history, I don’t know what is.

• “There’s an App for that.”:

Remember when the clunky Palm Pilot was the newest, coolest gadget on the market or when the Internet became available (rather slowly) through mobile phones and we all thought technology had reached its zenith? That was a long time ago – a very long time ago. The ingenious mind of Steve Jobs and his super-developers brought us the iPod and then the iPhone, a device that, like an internal human organ, we can’t really function without anymore. Or we have been persuaded to think as much. In any case, we rely far more on advanced technology than we did in 1999.

• Another Recession:

Charlotte and the rest of the nation lived through the worst recession since the 1970s, with a slew of politicians, businessmen and events to place the blame on. The affluent seemed only to increase in wealth, while the rest of us lost jobs and homes. The little, finer things that were once available to almost everyone either disappeared or became unaffordable. Things like gracious living, traveling, haute cuisine and quality goods took on a new stigma as being only for the well-heeled, and frugality, in turn, became the new virtue. While we didn’t recreate the Great Depression, the unemployment numbers were enough to cause legitimate unease.

• Charlotte Booms with Growth:

Our city just kept on growing, building more condos, more office buildings, more shops, more everything. We added several new museums uptown, a new performing arts theater and new restaurants. Johnson & Wales University was established uptown as well and I-485 grew nearer to total completion, making the trip to the Pineville/Ballantyne area all the more easier. Despite the roadwork, detours and construction, the final result at the end of 2009 was a city glistening with possibility and promise.

The world is a far different place than it was ten years ago, when the fears of Y2K caused everyone to stock up on five years of rice and soup mix. I remember watching television ads as New Year’s Eve 2000 approached. The celebration of the new century was cleverly tied in with diamonds, chocolate, champagne and evening gowns. Prosperity and an unmistakable feeling of safety are two words that come to my mind when I think of what it felt like to live at that time – not just for the young girl I was then, but the mood of the world. I’m hoping that I live to see a halcyon era like that one, once again.

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