As I drove to Knoxville today, I decided to throw on a playlist I thought would lighten the mood, so I went for my “Dancing Naked In The Streets” Digital Remix. The name has a backstory, but all you need to know for this post is that it’s filled with stuff from the 90s and early 2000s. It’s a lot of stuff that, as I listened, Emily may not have even known. It made me chuckle and cry a bit, but mostly it made me think a lot about all the random stuff we had to teach each other because of our nine-year age difference.
We Grew Up With Different Television Shows
One of the first things Emily and I bonded over was our mutual love of Grey’s Anatomy. Although we’d both watched every single episode (more than once), we had stumbled across the show at very different points. I was junior in high school when the show first aired, and I was hooked from the very beginning. It has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have rewatched the entire series at least twice (not to mention I’ve watched random episodes anytime I need a pick-me-up).
Emily, on the other hand, was still in elementary school in 2005. Needless to say, she wasn’t watching a scandalous show like Grey’s as a nine-year-old. Instead, she discovered the show when she was quite literally in the midst of her own real-life episode of a medical drama (albeit not at Seattle Grace/Grey-Sloan).
When Emily told me she watched Grey’s while waiting on her transplant, I laughed. I mean, who does that? Well, if you knew Emily’s love of real-life medical shows, then it wouldn’t surprise you whatsoever.
Besides our love of all things Grey’s Anatomy (including Private Practice), Emily and I grew up watching very different shows, mostly due to our age difference.
While I fondly remember shows like Boy Meets World, Clarissa Explains It All, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Emily watched shows like Wizards of Waverly Place and Drake & Josh. I was too old for Hannah Montana, while Emily was too young for Alias.
Most of the time, our different decades of television weren’t a huge deal. But sometimes, like when Emily used the word PRNDL or I quoted Melissa Joan Hart, we’d look at each other with completely perplexed expressions. Then we’d have to search YouTube for a clip and show the other what we were missing out on.
We Loved Quizzing Each Other On Music
Just like our love of Grey’s Anatomy, Emily and I shared similar music tastes to some extent. We went to see Lizzo together in 2019, we both love Demi Lovato… the list goes on. However, there were definite gaps in each of our musical knowledge, and we had fun digging in to find those gaps.
For example, a lot of music I grew up listening to in the ’90s (like Hootie and the Blowfish) was completely beyond Emily’s musical experience. Similarly, lots of the music she enjoyed throughout middle and high school came out around the time I was in college or just starting my career, so I didn’t know any of it.
I distinctly remember several occasions where one of us would pull up an artist or playlist and ask the other if they knew the songs. One night, we did this in a restaurant parking lot. Another time, we did it while driving to Knoxville. It always made me laugh, because we could both easily stump the other.
The other place where this difference in musical knowledge became obvious was anytime we went to a karaoke night at Lipstick Lounge. Emily frequently looked at me like I was crazy as I sang along to multiple songs in a row from karaoke. She would say, “How do you know these songs?” And I’d smile at her and say, “You’re dating an old lady… This is what you signed up for.”
But, at the same time, I’d never heard WAP until Emily introduced me to it. We were quite the pair.
We Experienced World Events From Different Ages
Television shows and music aside, I often forgot the age difference between Emily and I. That is, until someone would bring up world events from the past… and then it became apparent.
I remember the first time this happened. Someone brought up 9/11, and I mentioned everything I remembered from that day. I was in middle school. I walked into the library sometime mid-morning (probably during PE, which I got out of because several girls had made threats to me in the locker room), and they had the television on. Around the clock news coverage, burning buildings and fears about the plane that was still out there at the time. Vivid imagery forever in my mind.
And then, Emily said, “I think I was in kindergarten? I don’t really remember.” My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe it.
So many events I remember from the news during my childhood, like the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, and Monika Lewinsky, didn’t even register with her. Meanwhile, things she remembered from her childhood like the War in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, were things going on when I was in high school or college.
I think that, in some ways, this gave us slightly different perspectives on the world. But, at the same time, we both had a laundry list of “tragic world events” we could easily recall together. But, regardless, it definitely made me feel old more than a few times.
Sometimes Pop Culture Overlaps
Obviously, there were some overlaps in pop culture despite our age difference. That’s the fun part about life: some things are timeless, while others become “cool again” eventually.
For example, some timeless classics made it on both of our lists, while others spanned enough time that we both enjoyed them. Shows like That’s So Raven, Blues Clues, Powerpuff Girls, and The Fairly Oddparents were ones we both enjoyed (and shared them with the kids). These brief moments of shared pop culture made me happy.
There were also things like Lisa Frank that just never go out of style. Or funny commercials with catchy jingles that played for years, so we could both recite them entirely from memory.
I loved the things we found that overlapped. It still made me feel like we grew up in a similar time.
Our Age Difference Didn’t Impact Our Bond
We may have grown up in very different time periods and experienced very different pop culture trends. However, I never saw our age difference as an issue. In fact, there were far more commonalities we shared than differences.
Because Emily and I were nine years apart, we had very different media experiences growing up. However, we learned how to educate each other and laugh over what each of us didn’t know. And for that, I’ll always be thankful.