Where Are We?

As many of you know because I talk about it all the time on social media, there are certain phrases and usages that drive me around the bend and other ones I completely adore. My preferences aren’t predictable, even for me. Sometimes I’ll forget all about them until an innocent stranger uses one and sets me off.

Being senior citizen-adjacent, my memory is a steel sieve, and living in the back of beyond, I find out about language innovations nearly a decade after they’ve migrated into the mainstream, whether from black culture, tech cubicles, or anywhere else.

Google office in Mountain View, CA

Someone in a café used “-adjacent” the other morning, and I’d forgotten how much I loved its silliness. I went to Professor Google to find out when people began using it in this goofy way, and after a few pages of serious unironic definitions I found an article from 2019 saying it was about five years old then. So the decade estimate holds true here.

My frequent morning hang-out and eavesdropping perch: Three Forks Bakery & Brewery, Nevada City, CA

If you read this New York Times article, you’ll find that a writer named Lionel Shriver, in Harper’s, is wondering whether we’re starting to use geographic language, words of location and placement, because we need to keep our bearings more firmly “in the digital world, where everything’s floating around. We’re living increasingly in a world beyond space, beyond physicality.”

Saturn. Photo from Meteored Argentina

I am physically sitting sideways on my sofa as I write this, listening to the afternoon school-pick-up traffic noises out my open front door, as well as one chainsaw, one lawn mower, and some excitable wind chimes in a minor key. Things may be floating around inside this laptop, but here on Newtown Rd. on a warm day in March at 2500 feet above sea level, we are all in our usual places.

Mimi, sleeping.

I also discovered that last year there was an Adjacent Festival on Memorial Day Weekend on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It took some searching, but this turns out to have been a music festival involving bands I haven’t heard of like the Linda Lindas and Hot Milk. I have no clue about the adjacency part of it: adjacent to Manhattan? Adjacent to Atlantic City? Or the Atlantic herself?! I might be too old to understand the meaning of this without help, so if you have the lowdown, please explain in a comment.

Screenshot of the Adjacent Festival’s website’s landing page.

Speaking of clueless, I’ve been informed that I am a real senior citizen now, no adjacency about it, having reached my late sixties. I’m rebelling against this idea for the moment, and will consider myself forthwith to be elderly-adjacent. What are you beside, next to, abutting, neighboring, nigh, adjoining, contiguous with, proximate, and otherwise snuggling up against? Do tell!

[The tulips in the featured photograph for this post are both themselves tulips and tulip-adjacent. That might be a goal.]

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