The People in The Picture
They are almost strangers to me now. My husband and I have changed so much from that day 31 years ago. We might not even recognize our younger selves if we walked past them on a street.
I can see bits and pieces of them in our children from time to time. In a pair of eyes. The way one son taps his foot or in the way another son spells phonetically. I see them in the artistic endeavors of my daughter and for at least three of my children, in the shape of their big toe.
All those things are still there today in my husband and me, but we don’t look the same at all. We have more wrinkles and less hair. What hair we have is a different color or growing in different places. We have more ailments and less teeth. My husband’s foot tapping has slowed and my memory takes short vacations.
However, strange as we have become, we are still the same people. When our Best Man (whom we haven’t see in twenty years) toasted us with a goblet of champagne, I had visions of picket fences and sweet-faced children, tire swings and sandboxes, kittens and hamsters, trips to the beach and lazy summer afternoons.
My husband was sure that he would be a millionaire by the time he turned 30, though he had no plan for that. After that goal was attained, we would travel the world on a sailboat which we’d call home and learn to scuba dive and hang glide.
They were worthy goals. We probably should have known that we would need to compromise, but we were in love. We knew we could work it out.
Our children could have been sweet-faced, I’m not sure. It was hard to tell with all the Kool-aid mustaches and chocolate ice cream smiles. A picket fence would not have helped to corral those intrepid little rascals, though.
Becoming a millionaire by age 30 might have been possible if there weren’t so many mouths to feed. We should have had a better plan. Or better yet, any plan.
We had the sandbox, but the kittens, which grew into cats (who knew!), couldn’t be convinced that it wasn’t a gigantic litter box. The hamsters all got loose and drowned themselves in the sump pump hole. That’s not in any of the parenting books.
The sailboat turned out to be impractical because there was no way to contain the Legos which multiplied exponentially with every birthday and Christmas. Besides, neither of us knew how to operate a sailboat and my husband developed an allergy to the sun… literally. I didn’t know that could happen. Lazy summer afternoons require some strategic planning now and lots of sunscreen, hats and swimming, while wearing a tshirt.
Scuba diving would have been a good skill to learn, I suppose, but I hate what salt water does to my colored hair. Plus, it occurred to us that there are creatures in the ocean that might think we were dinner. If we did have a plan for our lives, getting eaten would not fit into it, I’m sure.
And hang gliding? That’s hilarious.
Since we didn’t have a sailboat, traveling the world would be very expensive and we were trying to become millionaires after all. So traveling would be accomplished by car with rest stops every half hour where each kid was required to run laps around the car until they were too tired to talk.
The people in that picture frame had no idea what they were getting into, thank goodness. They were the picture of bliss. And ignorance.