With each new phase that comes and goes, I do realize the time that slips ever-so-gently by without traces or clues of where it's going. While moving somewhere new or beginning a new job usually signals change in life, lately, it's been the small moments where I've been soaking it all in, taking a look around, and realizing it's official - we are 'grown-ups.'
I think it was the graceful approach of Valentine's Day that signaled all the changes around me. I'm the last minute type - I generally can't come up with any good ideas, nor properly execute a good idea unless it's last minute. Procrastination sometimes works to my advantage - teaming up with procrastination usually delivers results that I couldn't have done without it on my side. But this time, I came up with an idea ahead of time. I hadn't done anything too creative for J for the past couple years (or at least not that I can think of at the moment?), and with our 10 year dating anniversary approaching, I wanted to think like the old days. I loved when I'd get all creative for him and truly take the time to show how much I appreciate him. I know he doesn't mind when I don't do that, just as I don't mind when he doesn't, because for us, like many, it's usually the little things that take us really far. But for some reason, I just felt as though it was time...time for me to step outside the box and do something unusual. His gift consisted of memories. 10 small gifts to signify something of importance, something truly memorable, or something just plain fun for us that would happily force us to delve into our 10 years of memories together.
My point in saying this? Well, getting him 10 gifts forced me to look back - truly look back - and think of some of our favorite memories..memories that are usually overshadowed by bigger milestones in our relationship. And looking back brought more than just memories. It made me look around and realize all the different 'phases' we've been through as a couple, and just life in general over the past 10 years. Kinda like Saved By the Bell - we have 'The High School Years,' 'The College Years,' and now we are in 'The Med School Years' - except our cell phones have evolved to be a very minute version of the Zack Morris phone haha :) And it's all made me reminisce on all the events that brought us to where we are now.
"What do you want to do for Valentine's Day..Where do you want to go for dinner?" J asked. "I don't know, what about you?"
That's usually how our conversations go..oh, how indecisive we can be ;) We decided on PF Chang's. "But let's go early, like 5:30, so we can beat the crowds...oh, and that's happy hour!" to which J immediately went back and said "oh my gosh, listen to how old we sound!" And then he continued to mock himself in his best 80 year old man voice "oh, sha-lene, we gots to beat the crowds!"
"Well, 5:30 is good with me!"
We made reservations, and 2 days later, I found myself in the kitchen, apron on, mixing batter, crushing cookies, pouring batter into foil-lined cupcake pans - at the same time dinner was on the stove, I was toasting buns, and my husband walked downstairs to make a funny face at the sight he saw.
And that's when I looked down at myself (with a cute apron on at least) and thought, "Holy Betty Crocker! I really am getting old(er)..."
The very next morning at work on Valentine's Day, I found myself sitting at my desk on a conference call with about 10 board members. I spaced off for a quick minute. 10 years ago, I had no clue what my life would look like now. I had no clue that I'd be living in Georgia, working in a government position, getting ready to move again for my husband's med school career. My spacing out involved thinking about how much fun the sunny outdoor halls of Douglas High School probably were at that very moment that I was sitting on a conference call. I pictured teenagers giving each other their red paper hearts, tons of candy, flowers, balloons -- a sight you'd expect to see on Valentine's Day in high school. 'Oh, how things have changed!' I thought. I miss those dang days.
BUT, I am oh so happy to be in the moment I am now. It just all hit me at once how things have evolved, how our friends have all changed and grown up, trends changed, dreams have come true, family members created new families, etc. There have certainly been ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs - and for that, I am thankful. I am thankful for the teenager-ish ways we have let go of, and how his thoughts have now turned to "take my car because it's foggy out and I have fog lights" or making sure there is a safety stash consisting of a tire pressure gauge, a flashlight, etc. in my car just in case of emergency, or making sure I always have a little bit of cash on me prior to traveling. But I am also thankful for the teenager-ish ways we hang on to, like making sure we always throw in some fun, immature touches on appropriate (or sometimes inappropriate) situations. We can say the stupidest things and crack each other up. Fun times, fun times. But in all actuality, I love looking back, even on the stupidest of times, because each little event has gotten us to where we are now, and I am content with that.
I am also content in knowing that some old habits or interests will always remain with us..
Like Publix chocolate chip cookies...
or being completely indecisive when it comes to life's toughest decisions..
or like Wings Plus, the icee shop, our pup...
or moving around and going through many of life's changes while remaining each other's constant.
I have been stopping to look around (don't worry, not enough for people to notice!) and thinking about how someday, these very moments will become 'the good ole days.'
And my favorite line from one of the gifts I got him - a piece of subway art to hang in the office with wise words of wisdom - couldn't say it any better:
Reminisce about the good old days but look with optimism to the future.
Indeed, I will!