Reminiscing. I’ve been trying to think of that word all day. Nostalgia wasn’t the right word because that’s all about wistful yearning for the past. I don’t do that. I want to remember how a time or event made me feel but I don’t have a desire to relive or go back. Life is a forward journey, and each moment of it builds upon the other moments, creating the life you have in the present. And I am very happy with how my life has turned out so far. I have been blessed. I found my soul mate, I get to be a mommy, and my career life has given me amazing adventures that have finally led to a place I want to stay for the long-term. Every moment on my journey, each adventure, obstacle, and change in direction of my path through life has led me right where I am supposed to be. I wouldn’t change one tiny pebble or blade of grass on this path that I have followed. But once and awhile I find myself reviewing the journey. You know, finding a little clearing on the side of the road, pulling out a snack, enjoying the sunshine and scenery while flipping through the cerebral photo album of life.
Sometimes revisiting these mental photographs can be painful, but they allow me to see my true self, the good and the bad; they give me the opportunity to do a self-evaluation, to see how far I have come as well as where I can still improve my soul.
For the last week I’ve been reminiscing and taking a little trip down memory lane because I found out that someone I knew a looooong time ago died this past year. I wasn’t particularly close to him and he wasn’t someone that I kept in touch with over the years; but in my mind, in my cerebral photo album, that 16-year-old boy died, not the 40 something man with a family. That’s the funny thing about trips down memory lane. The mental pictures don’t age, just the person looking at them.
It’s easy to get sidetracked on these trips. Kind of like finding a little side path veering off of the main route that is almost completely hidden by weeds or tree branches. If I hadn’t stopped in that exact place and glanced at that particular spot on the side of the road, I would have missed it. Like a cat my curiosity got the better of me and I followed the almost overgrown memory path, and I let it lead me where ever it was going.
I was on this walk because I was thinking about the family of this man who was lost this year. Mostly his brother because that was why I knew him. It had been many months since he had died and I wasn’t sure if I should reach out and express my sympathy to him. It just seemed awkward all around. It was the holidays, I’m only peripherally “in touch” with his brother, and he was a boyfriend from high school. That last one was really the obstacle. I finally realized it would just be too weird. I have no idea how he is dealing with this loss and I didn’t want to intrude on something so personal.
So the little side path started out as memories of this old boyfriend. He was my first serious relationship, my first foray into the love arena. It was a happy and positive experience, and I have many, many good memories from that relationship. But I was very young, and very insecure, so I didn’t handle the break-up very well. At all. I’m pretty sure he hated me for a while. It took me a long time to learn how to let go and move on.
But he set the bar pretty high for future boyfriends, or pseudo-relationships. It is said that drug addicts get hooked because they are continually chasing that first high. It was kind of like that for me. I never could seem to find that “lo
ve high” that I had with the first one. Most of them, the majority of them, were jerks, douche bags, and just really really bad judgement on my part. There were a few nice guys here and there, but they never were like the first one.
And then my future husband walked into my life. That’s where the little side path off of memory lane led me. I realized that the bookends of the history of my love life are pretty amazing. I’ve listened to many friends share their stories; some never got past that first love, never found another one who could measure up. Others had one bad experience after another until they finally found the right one. And I’ve known a few who ended up going back to the original one when they realized that was the right one after all. I even have a few friends who have reconnected with old loves via social media, only to realize how lucky they were that those old ones got away. But I have met very few who can say the first and the last were two different ones and they were lucky to have both walk into their lives.
That’s when I saw that this side path was really a circle. When my now-husband and I started dating, a friend and I were talking about how I had dated a lot of jerks so that I would recognize a good guy when he finally came along. I had forgotten that I started out with a really good guy, a template for the “right one”. I feel very lucky that I can look back and have only fond memories of that first one, while continuing to move forward on this journey making new and amazing memories with this last one.