I went hunting for a particular set of photographs today and ended up falling down the rabbit hole of my archived pictures from the last 15 years. Part of it is my own worry about this baby – leading me to chase down pictures of myself right before the other two were born, and how BIG they both actually were after they were delivered. I remembered that she was that big – 10 lb is hard to forget – but even him at just over 8 lb was large. My memory has been distorted by all my friends having 6 or 7 lb babies in the last few years and what size they were as I held them in my arms. Then of course, I had to flip through years of photos and family vacations and holidays to watch them grow into the children they are now. When did he get so big? And how did I not realize that she has had the same smile since she was only a few months old?
In another folder, I stumbled across the photos of my group of girlfriends at all our weddings. How on earth were we so young and fresh looking? That tiny baby at her wedding, how did she turn into a little girl turning 9 next month? Did I really wear THAT to a sorority ball? What WAS his name, that random guy that used to hang out that summer when I lived in the sophomore dorms? We were all so young and naive, the girls in those photos – not knowing what the next decade and a half would hold for so many of us. Miscarriages, infertility, divorce, betrayal, aging parents. Older, wiser, thicker skinned and more scarred – that’s who we are now. Some of it showing on the outside more than others. The initial thought of “I should share this on Facebook so we can all laugh together” over-ridden with “But I don’t know if their spouse/family/friends now would understand the history behind that shot, so maybe not …”
What am I going to see in another 15 or 20 years when I look back at these pictures again? Babies grown up, left home, maybe even with babies of their own by then. Friends lost and gained over the years, some held close and some slipped away as nameless faces in a scanned pic from a party I don’t remember any more. The inevitable march of time, documented in so many pictures of my life, showing how much has changed – and how nothing has changed at all.