The Odyssey Years

Published: October 9, 2007, NY Times

There used to be four common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Now, there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active retirement and old age. Of the new ones, the least understood is odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood.

During this decade, 20-somethings go to school and take breaks from school. They live with friends and they live at home. They fall in and out of love. They try one career and then try another.

Their parents grow increasingly anxious. These parents understand that there

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"Social life is fluid. There

well two things from my perspective. Children. Women no longer need a participating male to conceive a child. Sadly many of the young ladies I know are planning their families - without a husband. Most are in college and plan to own a home, have a career and children. Just not sure about wanting a husband.

Also support. In my generation and prior, women were financially supported by men. That's no longer the case either.

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

When I was in the military one of my fantasies was to get out, and go on a long trip. I thought about seperating overseas and taking a long "odyssey" through Europe. But I hadn't been home in two years, and I felt kind of guilty about not seeing my family. I went home from my overseas assignment after two years, and went to my last posting at Fort Bragg. "Now," I thought,"I'll separate out, and take off for California."

When the week came to go through separation came I was busy, and didn't get over to do my stuff until I had two days left. I flew home on a Friday night, and got home around 11:30. I went to bed, and had a pretty relaxing Saturday. Over Sunday morning breakfast my mom said, "Shouldn't you be looking for a job tomorrow?" Well, that's what I started to do. I am not saying it was my best course, but I often think I would probably still be drifting, or dead in some jungle (because I might have enlisted again). Sometimes domineering parents, and obedient children save their lives rather than throwing them away.

Old South End Broadway

I'm on my own little "Odyssey" in DC/VA. I have plenty of company since about half the population is young, educated and drifting as well. Nobody has deep roots here. They come, work, meet others, maybe get married and move on.

The Toledo Tattler

I'm rather proud of you. I remember you as a bit of a rabble rousing artsy-fartsy somewhat liberal type in your youth. But clearly your north-end up-bringing has served you well and have seen that there is more to life than the Polish Village, Point Place and the Old North End. Keep up the good work.

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