“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”
– Winston Churchill
So, I was digging through my past a few weeks ago (a/k/a an old trunk) and I found a scrapbook I had made once about 10ish years ago. I didn’t tell many people about finding this thing – not even my husband. (I guess he knows now, though.)
So, yeah. Sigh. The scrapbook.
I debated writing about this at all. But see, I have this problem. I’m a writer. And when something wants to be written about, it will NOT. SHUT. UP. Seriously. It won’t leave me alone. I can’t do anything else until I vomit this mess out onto a page. So here I am. And here’s my vomit.
So, why was I digging through that old trunk anyway? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I was lonely. Maybe I was bored. Maybe it was because my daughter’s getting ready to head off to college. Maybe it was because I was getting ready to turn 40 (yep, I turned the big 4-0 on August 2 — yay). Maybe I was stuck on this precipice between my past and my future and, in an unwillingness to move forward, I decided I wanted to move backward instead? (Dude, that’s deep.)
Heck, I don’t know. I don’t know why I decided to take a headfirst dive into the past but, alas, I did. And I found this scrapbook. It was a scrapbook I made as a gift for an old boyfriend. (As you can see, the relationship must not have worked out because I’m the one that ended up stuck with the ‘gift.’ But anyway…)
Okay, let me describe this thing to you. Yes, it was a scrapbook but it wasn’t what you’d expect. It wasn’t filled with photos and ticket stubs and dinner receipts or whatever it is that you scrapbook people do. It was actually just a scrapbook full of emails. Yep. Just…words. This boyfriend and I were actually only a couple for about three months total. (He’s still a very good friend of mine, believe it or not – life is weird…) But, the way we started out was almost what you’d call “pen pals.” This was before texting became such a big thing so emails were the latest non-phone-call means of communication of the time. We sent each other these long, flowery (and sometimes hilarious) emails over the span of about a year before we ever even dated. Then, once we started dating, I decided to put all of those piles of words into a book and give it to him as a gift for Valentine’s Day.
Long story short, he loved it.
We broke up shortly thereafter. (Switching from friends to a relationship had been a HUGE mistake at the time.) He gave the book back to me. I hid it from myself. Years passed. We got over it. Became friends again. Life is fine. I found the book.
You caught up?
So, since all is well, the book shouldn’t have bothered me. It should have just been some fun old memories to chuckle over and then toss back in the trunk. That is fully what I expected.
But it didn’t quite work out that way.
I started reading that book and…no exaggeration here, people…I started SOBBING. Seriously. And I didn’t even know why. I mean, this guy isn’t some lost love from the past. He’s my friend. He’s still in my life. In fact, we still talk about things almost as much as we did back then. What the heck was wrong with me? Why did the past tug at me so hard? Obviously I wasn’t missing him. He’s right here.
So, what was I missing?
Yep. It was me. That girl that was writing those long, heartfelt emails is definitely not the girl who is sitting here writing this blog. What happened to her? My gosh, that girl felt things. She had so much to say. She gushed about movies and books and her kids and…love. Yep. Love. This cynical old 40-year-old used to believe in that crap.
Okay, yes, I’m married now. I must have believed in love again at some point. But y’all, it’s not the same. This 40-year-old’s form of love is much different than that 30-year-old’s form of love in that scrapbook. I mean, that 30-year-old made a scrapbook. That’s enough evidence in itself. Who has the time or energy for that mess?
But seriously, what has changed?
I mean, I was still a working mom back then. Kids. A house to take care of. And alone at that. Can I really blame a lack of time for my change? No. I can’t. Honestly, I don’t know what to blame.
All I know is that I miss her. I miss the girl who trusted people. That girl had been through a few heartbreaks of course, but they didn’t damage her. Made her a wee bit more cautious maybe, but she was still willing to see what was out there. This 40-year-old version of that girl just isn’t like that anymore.
I guess the older you get, the worse the sting.
I don’t bounce back so quickly anymore. Each hurt – each blow – hangs on just a little longer. There’s no longer a need to put together a scrapbook of memories because I don’t really want to remember. And who cares anyway? My family fights me within an inch of their lives when I just want to take pictures for Heaven’s sake. No one cares about maintaining and saving these memories except for me. And frankly, I’m kind of tired of that.
My missives have turned into grocery lists.
I don’t really know what the point of this blog is. Like I said before, sometimes something is in a writer’s head and just has to come out. I guess it’s not always going to make sense.
All I know is that I found a piece of myself hidden away in a trunk and I had forgotten that that version of me even existed. And I wish she’d come back. I kind of liked that girl.
“Is it really him or the loss of my innocence I’ve been missing so much?”
– from the song Strawberry Wine by Deanna Carter