I had NO idea back then how lucky I was. How blessed I was. How cute I was. Looking back always has an afterglow, doesn't it? It is as if we don't have access to how others see us until we get some distance from our very own selves. Five, ten, twenty years later, we finally see a different view of ourselves, a softer view. We see how charming, how put together, how fragile, how amazing, how perfectly imperfect, how cool we once were. We see ourselves through the new lens of astonishment: Wow, she was only 23, yet she was so brave to move 3000 miles away for the sake of creating a life. She was adventurous, smart, open hearted. Which brings me to today. Chances are we're all of those things now, but we don't see. Probably won't for another five, or ten years when we stumble on a photo of where we're at today and say things like she was brave for letting go, embracing change, healing her heart. It's the afterglow effect. The remember when effect. The I-hated-that-photo-of-myself but now-I-love-it effect. Everything becomes precious, and some might say precise, when we look back with a new vantage point. A vantage point birthed from traveling a few well worn paths along life's journey and knows, knows what it really sees.
We had just started dating 12 weeks before. Deeply in love. Brave in love, even. This shot was taken the very day we crammed a tiny black Honda Civic Accord hatchback with everything we couldn't leave behind. Photo albums, jewelry, books, all three pairs of my treasured overalls. The most memorable item, though, was a large Yucca tree, one that John's mom had given him years before, a memory and a gift that he couldn't part with. It took up the entire back seat.
We set off for Portland, Oregon. We were 24 years old, and hadn't a care in the world thanks to our new found in-love-ness. We were on an adventure. And we still are.
Thirteen years later, after traveling miles and miles of life with one another, the photos look very different, but the lens from which I see, really see, is shifting. The gap is closing on the afterglow effect as I work to see my life, our life, from the perspective of a softer lens right here today instead of years from today. I can look now (vs five, ten years from now) at recent images and see the preciousness of a life being lived in the thick of crazy schedules, overwhelm, tangled up hearts, uncertainty. I can see him for what he is today. I can see me for what I am today. And I see clearly what's happening here. There is purpose. There is gratitude. And there is meaning. I don't want to look back from 10 years and finally see all of this. I want to see it today.
And so, the afterglow is turning simply into....glow.
Here's to capturing it all so that we can cherish, then and (especially) now.