This was me.
A high school senior, celebrating after the close of my very last high school theater production.* Only a few weeks before graduation. A few months before moving into the dorms to take a crack at living all on my own. Finishing up what my grandfather told me would be the best years of my life. I look back at myself, and I think:
Wow, I had a ton of hair.
Of course, that thought is quickly followed by: Wow. Ten whole years. In some ways, it seems like yesterday. Mostly, though, it feels like a lifetime ago. I had different friends. Different priorities. Different dreams.
Yesterday was my ten year high school reunion. I was unable to attend for a variety of reasons, but it still occurred, marking a milestone in my ever-changing life. Ten years ago, I was an adult, but still so much a child, in so many ways. I had not yet held a job. I had never lived all by myself. I had never had the freedom - the terrifying, exhilarating freedom - to make all of my own decisions. I had already met many of my closest friends. I had already been dating Patrick for almost a year and a half.
But many of the things that define my life had yet to happen. The loss of so many I held dear, particularly my grandmothers, who each helped shape my concept of what it means to be a wife, a mother, and a woman. The divorce of my parents, and the ensuing loss of my childhood home. The things I learned both in and out of class in college. The births of my adopted nephews. The bliss of finally saying "I Do" to the man I had loved for so long. Finding the festival, and all of the wonder and heartache it brings. The birth of my son, whose existence has completely changed every facet of who I am.
I look at that picture of the happy, carefree, long-haired girl and I see the sheer naive joy of the moment.
And yet, I have no desire to go back there. Because my life now, at this moment, is even better than it was then.
And I realize, those were not the best years of my life. These are.
*Girl Crazy, for those of you who are interested.