Living Life

A Look at Then, a Look at Now

The date: Halloween in the year 2000. (Obviously you say that line like Conan.)

I was 19 years young. I started out the evening with butterfly wings on, but those got misplaced as wings are wont to do. Never one to be without a costume, I improvised.

I became Rolling Rock Box Head Woman.

Halloween Costume
Pre-digital camera days, taken with film, yo.

Please note I’m also reading Maxim magazine. In a fraternity house. Painted bright yellow.

— __ — __ — __ — __ — __ — __ —

Flash-forward to the year 2013 during the cold, indoors month of February.

I am 31 years young. It’s a Sunday night. I’m organizing and sorting through things to get ready for the week. I notice the gigantic box of cereal that we bought at Sam’s Club and I am struck with the vague memory of yellow walls and missing wings. I run for the nearest magazine in the living room, which happens to be Working Mother — because I am a working mother.

With a Honey Nut Cheerios Box on my head.

The college version of this photo involved a beer bottle and a Maxim magazine. The adult version involves the Sam's Club sized Honey Nut Cheerios and Working Mother Magazine. @merklitl

And strangely, some bright yellow as well, but not in the form of a fraternity boy’s room. On the curtains I had custom made for the second house my husband and I have purchased together.

It’s all so very grown up. Custom curtains, home ownership, magazines about work and motherhoodcereal boxes.

The sober silliness of it all makes me giggle, makes my husband raise an eyebrow. He wasn’t there, though he has seen the pictures. He shakes his head, used to goofiness and laughter as we go about our evenings together. Rarely big productions, we just enjoy being us — silly and serious and tired and awake and happy and sad and in between — together.

I look at the young me and at the present me. I see shadows of that young, excited-to-live-life little girl who thought she was so old and so important evidenced even still, years later. I see the hope, the belief that everything will work out in the end. I see some misguided angst, but, well, what 19-year-old doesn’t have misguided angst? I note that there’s some knowledge — and some hurt — missing in the eyes of the younger version of me. Still I see peace and joy and me — albeit with a cereal box on my head — when I look at the picture from last week. I am me more now than I was then, and I didn’t even know that I wasn’t me then. Mind blowing.

I am thankful for both pictures, for who I have become in the years since college, in the years since motherhood. I look forward to taking another photo in thirteen years (…which, holy moly) and seeing how I have changed, seeing which ways the light is still there; I look forward to being me.

8 replies on “A Look at Then, a Look at Now”

It was a lot of fun to talk to the younger you who was full of potential, and it is a privilege to be virtually friends with a person who has grown up into a fine person who has lived up to that potential.

Oh, nostalgia. I am not there yet. I am 30 this year and still keep wondering when I am going to be that adult I thought I was supposed to be when I was younger. Still puttering around with boxes on my head though..

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