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Still the One, a Letter to My Younger Self

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A janitor at town hall took this shot. That's what you get when you elope!

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Thirteen years. Thirteen how-can-I-possibly-be-that-old years.

I haven't done anything else in my life continuously for that length of time. Friends have come and gone. Jobs. Houses. Dreams. Goals. My sanity. Some I miss, some I don't.

I look at the photographs of us on our wedding day and I don't recognize those people anymore.

I am not the same woman my husband married all those years ago, and neither is he the same man. We've grown and changed and evolved into different people, most of the evolution positive.

I want to tell that girl in the photograph not to be in such a rush. Not to march into adulthood responsibilities so fast. To linger more on the way, check out those detours more closely. I want to tell her to lighten the hell up.

I want to tell her that life is long, but the living goes fast. Make the most of it. And once you have children, it speeds forth like you are living in dog years. One day you will find yourself talking about something that happened a "couple of years ago" only to realize the event of which you are speaking happened 15 years ago.

I want to tell her that babies are fun, but they have this thing about growing up and turning into people with real thoughts and ideas of their own. I know, crazy. And then one day they will become teenagers, whose sole purpose in life some days is to prove how smart they are by pointing out how dumb you are. Teenagers are God's way of making sure you aren't sad when they leave for college. I'm not sure she would understand this yet as she wasn't that far away from teenage-hood herself.

I want to tell her to watch what you say, especially about the behavior of other people's children. You are going to have to eat your words a lot — make sure they are tasty words, not bitter.

I want to tell her to embrace her body. To wear bikinis more. To stop the self-hatred. Because it is as good as it is going to get.

In fact I would grab her by the shoulders and shake her and shout, "THIS IS AS GOOD AS YOUR BODY IS GOING TO GET!" I never would have thought I would look back wistfully at that body I hated. But I do. Oh, how I long for boobs that stay up where they belong all on their own volition. Also, bladder control of steel. It's a toss up which I miss more.

I would tell her that she ought to smile more because in a few more years she will start getting wrinkles — and smile lines are much more pleasant than scowl lines. That she will hate the crease between her eyes from furrowing her brows in worry all the time. It is much better to be able to point out wrinkles and say they are from a lifetime of laughter than point out those caused by needless fretting.

I want to tell her to do cartwheels, just because.

To enjoy the luxury of sleeping in, of wearing dry-clean-only clothes,of running into a store quickly, without having to undo carseat buckles and engage in major negotiations at the check-out over the candy.

I want to tell her that 13 years later, she will still be in love that man. The man who swept her off her feet with a stick of Dentyne gum. The man she vowed to grow old with. That, of all the things she will look back upon wistfully and with a touch a regret, the decision to marry that man won't be one of them.

He is still the one.

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Visit Notes From the Trenches — Chris's personal blog

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