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My Own Forever Ago

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Michael Branson Smith kicked off the Fall 2011 #ds106 with High School Is Everyone’s Forever Ago. It’s his beautiful self-introduction, well thought out, great story, and includes a photo of him from the 80s, and a portion of a passed note on the topic of taking a driving test. It reminded me of all the notes I passed during high school. My best friend Allison would write part of a story and pass the paper to me to continue the plot. I’d pass it back to her after adding my own plot twist. And so it would go. I’m pretty sure I don’t have those notes anymore, but I saved them for a long time.

1980s big hair me

big hair, big glasses, big smile

Michael encouraged me to share the rocker chick photo of myself that I thought would make him laugh, but I have no idea where it is, so instead I scanned this one, which is, I have to say, the biggest my hair ever got, and don’t you love my nerdy glasses? I really had it all going for me.

I’m supposed to be introducing myself and instead I’m sort of riffing off Michael’s post. I think that’s okay – you’ll get to know me as we go along.

Michael talked about those moments in life where so much is happening, and you’re taking it all in and really feeling those momentous shifts, and time slows down or speeds up in a way that those periods of time become distorted. High school is everyone’s forever ago, and your kids were born a few weeks ago even if they’re on their own way into high school.

And then there are some moments that get frozen, or repeat, or echo through time.

I went on a month-long trip through Great Britain, courtesy of my mom, the summer after I graduated from high school. I guess when you spend that amount of time away from your normal life, without the same responsibilities and daily grind, and when you spend those days making epic memories, well, those things tend to reverberate around in your personal space-time continuum. Back in 1987 during that month of travel, I saw so many places that have a lot more known (to me anyway) human history than anywhere in the United States. One place in particular stuck out as pretty incredible to see with my own eyes, and that was Stonehenge. It knocked the wind out of me when I saw it in person. I was just awestruck at the almost tangible feeling of how long it’s been there.

I’ve always been grateful to my mom for making that experience possible for me. I was really excited to take her to visit some of the same places I saw in 1987 when we went to Great Britain together this summer, 24 years later.

But my mom had a knee injury during our second week that kept both of us from doing any traveling at all for about two weeks during our trip. We shared the experience of being scared at facing an unknown medical problem in a foreign health care system. We shared stress and frustration and a slow healing process, too. We felt happy and lucky to be together no matter where we were and what was happening. But we were both a little crushed that we didn’t get to see many of the things we had planned together.

On our last travel weekend, we managed to rent a wheelchair, and Mom braved the long train and bus trips, and we went to see Bath and then Stonehenge together. When I saw Stonehenge from the bus window I burst into tears. It felt like such an epic journey just to get back there, and such a privilege to share it with my mom. Goosebump city.

Why am I writing about this? I guess Michael’s post makes me a little sad that I don’t have kids of my own, but it also reminded me there are plenty of wonderful experiences and memories for me with the family and friends that I do have.

Mom and me at Stonehenge, 2011, yes the British wheelchair came with the plaid blanket

Oh, and you better believe I wheeled Mom all around the monument as I babbled out every single thing I could remember about it from art history and British history courses.

me at stonehenge

victory photo at Stonehenge, 2011 – smaller hair, smaller glasses, bigger hips… but still fabulous

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