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Then and Now

I went out with girlfriends tonight, only one of a handful of times I’ve been out at night since Jules was born. I put on heels and squeezed myself into some jeans that still don’t quite fit, and I drove to Venice to meet four of my best friends at a restaurant that we’ve been going to together for years. I got there a few minutes early and wandered into a couple of shops, peering at little displays of jewelry I can’t afford and admiring the festive holiday atmosphere pervading every corner of everything.

It was Monday night but it was bustling, and when I returned to the restaurant it was already packed. We all crammed into a booth and ordered the same things we always order, the things we ordered seven years ago when were were the same, but different, people. When we were in our twenties and single and lost and found and altogether women we had already become. We just didn’t know it yet.

And dinner was dinner, each of us filling the rest in on the latest, our week, our year, our city, our love, our life. Everything was familiar and perfect and I’ve maybe never felt so grateful for things that continue, and things that stay the same.

After a while I could feel the clock beginning to tick, my breasts filling with milk for the baby at home, the sand running out on the time keeper for Greg and his nighttime capacity with the girls. Dessert menus skated across the table but I bid farewell, kissing my friends goodbye and heading back out into the nighttime.

As I walked down the street, the palm trees above me shrouded in a cool evening mist, I was flooded with memories of a different me. The me that lived here all those years ago, the years before I was a wife and a mother, the years before I was the woman I am now. I picked my way across the broken asphalt, to the station wagon, the car that would take me home to them, the girls and my husband, to the me I know better than that girl.

But for the minutes it took me to cut through Venice, over to Santa Monica and our little house, I let the ghost of who I once was ride with me. I turned up the radio and let myself remember different nights, a different car, different wants and fears and homecomings.

But really, I don’t miss those days or nights. I don’t miss who I was. She’s still here somewhere, crammed into some too-tight jeans, and briefly alighted into a warm and bustling restaurant that is still the same, even if I’m not.

Driving home I was grateful for all of it. The then and the now. The her and the me. The chance to trace over and over and over myself until I get it right.

6 Comments

  1. Fabulous!! I feel like this all of the time, especially since I’m living in LA again. This is the city where most of my hopes and dreams were realized, and some thrown to the wind, throughout my late twenties and early thirties. As much as I try, I just can’t go back to feeling how I did during those exciting and tumultuous days, and I’m not sure that I even want to. I’m happier now as a mom and a wife than I have ever been, but I know that younger and freer version of me is out there somewhere. Sometimes I’ll drag my husband to a part of town or a place we used to go to back in those days, just to try to recapture some of it – but it can’t really be done. I always end up feeling like I’m on the outside looking in on my former self. The crazy thing is that I almost feel bad for that person, because I know that my life is so much richer and more meaningful now. I think our lives will just get more and more filled up with love the older we get, but the ghost of our younger selves will always be with us. It’s good to take them along for a ride once in a while, to show them how far we’ve come. :)

    Comment by Liz on December 10, 2012 at 11:51 pm

  2. Such a beautiful post. I’ve thought about the “old” me a lot, since having our son in June. While I have never felt more in love with myself since having our boy, I grow wistful thinking about the girl I once was, the girl who dreamed of being single and living in NYC and adopting a little boy or girl that so needed a mama to love him or her. I love the me then, but I love the me now even more: I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Comment by Sara on December 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

  3. yes, we do come into wellbeing – very healing! best wishes

    Comment by Esther Bradley-DeTally on December 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

  4. What a great post! We all needs times like these to remember who we are/were and revel in who we are now and be thankful for it!

    Comment by Karen on December 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

  5. Lovely! So beautifully put.

    Comment by Rebecca on December 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

  6. [...] as lead character driving my life right now. Then this rings a bell “it’s more about “The chance to trace over and over and over myself…” currently I am drawing parent circles around, over, and through the wife and student outlines [...]

    Pingback by Heart Floors. « Love Loulabel on January 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

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