Her Name is Alex

(Originally published Nov. 19, 1998, in the OC Metro magazine. Republished now on the eve of my daughter’s high school graduation.)

HER NAME IS ALEX.

alex youngShe’s new around here. So much has already passed her by — there are things she will never see and plenty she will never know.

She won’t know any president from the 20th century. The first she’ll have any recollection of at all will likely be the one elected in 2008. Perhaps it will be a woman or an African-American.

She will never go to the Soviet Union. She won’t see the Berlin Wall unless she’s in a museum. God willing, she will never experience the threat of nuclear war.

Video games like Pong and Ms. Pac Man will seem as ancient as the Dead Sea Scrolls. She will never own a vinyl record. It’s possible she may never even own a CD, a cassette tape or a VHS video.

Using computers will be as natural to her as breathing. The Internet will be her encyclopedia. She will send email before she writes her first letter – if she writes letters at all – and she will shop online as comfortably as she would go to the mall.

She will never see a first-run episode of “Seinfeld.” She will never think of the television networks as the “Big Three,” or 24-hour news as something out of the ordinary. With any luck, she will never know Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera or Barney.

She will learn about new wave music in a history class. She probably won’t see the Rolling Stones in concert – but then again, I’m 31, and I thought that I would never see the Rolling Stones in concert.

Diseases that once erased generations will never harm her, thanks to vaccines and other medical advances. Her future may see a cure for AIDS, or perhaps even cancer. I hope she won’t need a cure for either.

She will never experience having just one phone company. She’ll hear stories about the days when Orange County had a single area code, when movie theaters had only one screen and when Anaheim had only one Disney theme park.

She will look at the space shuttle as simply another form of transportation. She might even take a ride someday. Hell, she just might drive.

She will look at us and laugh. We will look at her and wonder. There are things she will see that we won’t, and changes she will make that we can’t, or wouldn’t.

She will not know cynicism unless we teach her. She will not know fear or hate unless we show her. She will not know love unless we love her.

But there is one very special thing she will know. One thing that I hope she doesn’t take for granted.

Unlike me, she will know her father. And he will know his newborn child.

Her name is Alex. She is my daughter. And that will never change.

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