For today’s Memory Lane Monday post, I put up a pic of me and my dear friend Ellen during our freshman year of college. Throughout the day, I’ve glanced at the picture, and I keep thinking, “Who is that girl? Do I remember her and what her life was like then? And is she still inside of me today?”
I do remember her. She was young and far from home… surrounded by new, wonderful friends (that she’s still grateful for even today), yet longing for what she left behind at home a few months before. The walls of her dorm room (just down the hall from where that picture was taken) were plastered with pictures of home—images of her childhood friends, who were spread out at colleges all over the country; images of her new baby niece, who had just been born a couple of months before she left for school; images of her parents; and, of course, lots of images of the then love of her life (who had put a diamond ring on her finger that summer).
That girl spent her days in huge lecture halls, taking notes and wondering what she was going to do with the rest of her life. She had no clue what she was going to study for the next four years or what she wanted to be when she grew up. She spent her nights writing letters to her boyfriend and counting the days until her next trip home. She also spent a lot of time getting to know the girls with whom she shared a bathroom (and her new life).
That girl had a lot of life ahead of her. She looked forward to graduating from college, getting married, having babies… she dreamed about what her babies would look like, what their names would be, and what a loving husband and father her boyfriend would be one day. She imagined her fairytale wedding and caught herself buying a Brides magazines every now and then.
Now, that girl is 15 years older. She did, in fact graduate from college… though, not the same one where she spent that freshman year. She is married to the love her life… though, not the person she thought it would be at that time (and, as it turned out, she should’ve saved the money she spent on those magazines; she didn’t have a fairtyale wedding after all!). She has two gorgeous children… though nothing about motherhood is how she imagined it would be (and she never imagined that her kids would be named Damon and Avery; she also never imagined just how beautiful they would turn out to be!).
That girl had never had her heart broken. This girl has known heartbreak, but lived to tell the tale… and, today, is forever grateful for that broken heart and what came next. That girl had never been financially responsible for herself (or anyone else) and had never lost sleep at night worrying about how she would keep her children fed and clothed and with a roof over their heads. This girl has spent many a night worrying about those things and is no stranger to counting out change to buy milk and bread (and dog food!).
That girl still lives in me, in the form of blurry memories. Thank God I have so many photographs and other nostalgia to help me remember specifics! Sometimes I miss that girl. I wish I could go back and have a talk with her… I’d tell her to enjoy every second of every day, to soak it all up and experience as much as possible in the short time that she had there… to throw caution to the wind and “live a little” more, and to cherish her freedom! I’d tell her that she’s beautiful, inside and out, and never to let anyone make her doubt that. More importantly, I’d tell her not to wish away the next 15 years.
I’d also tell her that, in 15 years, she’ll have a few more gray hairs, a few more wrinkles, a lot more stress in her daily life… but that she’ll finally feel content, for the first time in her life.