There was some discussion amongst myself and my brothers-from–other-mothers and my Moon-Star sister about posting “then” and “now” pix of ourselves as a coda to my post a couple of weeks back. I am going ahead, though I don’t know if they will, because NONE OF THEM ANSWERED MY FRELLING E-MAIL on the subject. I guess we’ll see.
The pictures below are from me in 1993, and from this past December, just 2 days inside the 6-month limit. I had a more recent one, but I wasn’t wearing my glasses in it, and that seems like a change over time that should be included. I wore safety glasses in kindergarten, lest some kid with poor motor control should damage my good eye with a wayward crayon. I hated them then, and wasn’t sad when they got broken and were never replaced. I had to get the real deal when I was 26; I’d been standing in the back of my classroom and realized I couldn’t see what I’d written on the chalkboard, not clearly, anyway. I still mourn the loss 20/15 vision I had in my good eye. For several years after I got them, the glasses were optional and only strictly necessary when I was watching movies or TV, or driving. At this point, though, I can’t go without them without the blurriness quickly nauseating me.
The “then” picture is from a set of engagement pictures my mom took of me and Scott when we traveled to Minnesota for Christmas five months before our wedding. It was probably one of the better pictures I’ve ever taken; I am not particularly photogenic, but a good photographer can do wonders. In that picture, I was 21 years old. I had yet to earn my first gray hair; that would happen soon, though, during my stint of student teaching that spring. This was no coincidence, I’m sure.
When I went looking for a picture to use for this post, I got lost in all the photo albums. (And yes, they were photo albums; it’d be a couple of years before digital cameras became available, let alone widespread. Now, most of my pictures live on my computer, on flash drives, on Flickr and Facebook. I’m not sure which is better. On the computer, they’re always right there and handy. But there’s something about sitting back on the couch and flipping the pages of a photo album slowly that seems, at least for me, to lend itself to more reminiscing than clicking a mouse does.)
As I looked through pictures from college on, it was like there were all these other lives I lived and had mostly forgotten. The names—often last, sometimes first, too—of people who had been friends escaped me. The pictures of Scott and me were funny—god, we were so young. I commented to Scott (who hates to pose for photos) about how he was making faces at the camera, faces that were new to me then, but that I’ve seen a million times since. The pictures of people and pets who’ve left this world left me feeling melancholy; there were more than I realized.
We are so many people as we travel this world, temporary products of the scenery and characters we act with, and yet I still can feel all those other mes within me, when reminded. That part that remembers being there for all of it, that part that remembers like it was yesterday…that is the part that I think is my actual soul. For that part, time doesn’t exist like it does for the mind. For that part, there is no “then”; there is, was, and ever will be only “now.”