It was 1993. Dwight and I had just figured out that we were in mutual adoration of one another. Smitten, really.
I was working at a pre-school, called Sara Swickard, which was affiliated with Western Michigan University, our alma mater. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and working at the pre-school made perfect sense.
One summer’s day, I left work to find a flower and a note attached to my car’s windshield. I don’t remember what the note said, but I remember how I felt, surprised and loved. It was a welcomed break from the booty calls I’d participated in and the unsuccessful partnerships I’d called “relationships.” He liked me. He actually liked me.
Dwight says I mention this memory often. He’s probably right because I can still conjure the butterflies that fluttered that summer if I think on it long enough. I know the depths of the shock of someone leaving a rose with a note on your windshield feeling. But the reality is I’ll never have it again. That was yesterday. He was different and so was I.
And that’s part of my challenge. I always want yesterday’s emotions.
For example, I remember my youngest daughter’s joy during her first conscious Christmas.
“For meeee???” she exclaimed when she realized all those shiny wrapped gifts were hers and hers alone. “Thank yoooouuu Mommeee! Thank yoooouuu Daddeee!”
Her face was indescribable. She’d never looked like that before and she’d never look like that again.
Christmas would become commonplace and sometimes obligatory. Gifts would be expectant, so much so, that when Dwight and I paid over $3k for her to visit England with her English teacher, she’d forget that Christmas 2018 was wrapped up in those sacrificial dollar signs and grimaced at the idea of having no tangible present. Her disappointment was palpable.
I want yesterday’s memories, the ones from over a decade ago.
I wish my oldest daughter was still an adolescent, taking selfies with her sister and me, complaining about how horrible my angles are, snatching my phone, while making it social media presentable. But she’s not. This past Christmas, she brought her boyfriend, who was seemingly attached to her physical being. Private conversations rarely existed because he was always around.
I was happy that she would be alone during our last Thanksgiving because that meant we could be like we were, pre-boyfriends and pre-adultood. Just the four of us. For once, I understood the difficulties of accepting your child’s significant other. It’s hard. You want to be welcoming, but at the same time, you wish things were like they were before they arrived.
But that’s impossible. Things can never be as they were before. Time moves on and changes occur.
So, I do the best I can accepting what is.
Dwight no longer believes people should use flowers the way that they do, so if he buys them and brings them home, the meaning is different. Desi knows Christmas is a social construct, so when she buys and receives presents there’s now an underlying awareness of societal conformity. Kesi brought her boyfriend home for the holidays. He will forever be etched in 2019’s holiday photos.
One day, I’ll stop chasing yesterday’s memories. One day, I’ll accept what is because to do otherwise is to invite suffering. And who wants to do that?