Stepping over memories

By Kalynn Brazeal

We have settled close to home. Home means the area where my better half and I dated and wed so many years ago. Obviously it means we are close to family as well. It’s a blessing. No seriously, stop laughing. It’s amazing after so many years away (18?) to enjoy time together.
However, occasionally we walk over a memory. It absolutely makes my heart sing, and I have a bittersweet twinge as I realize how fast life is flying by. Today was just the example. We were celebrating our youngest child’s birthday, and she requested a trip to our favorite pasta place. It was also the same place that my better half took me to the night before he shipped off to bootcamp 18 years ago. We sat in the same seats. The nostalgia was strong. Watching the child that looks like a carbon copy of me with his humor and smarts across the table from us was humbling. I kept having little flashbacks.
Back then, that was a pricey restaurant for us. I was a college student and worked at a department store. He was a tech for an AC/Heating company. We were minimum wage kids starting our life together with no clue what was in front of us but so excited to do it together. He used all the cash he had to make that dinner happen before he was leaving me for an adventure — an adventure he signed up for to make sure that we had a fighting chance on our own. We were scared and nervous, but neither of us would utter those words out loud. We smiled and held hands, enjoying our dinner. We even have a picture from that night.
After our lunch, of course our daughter wanted a mall trip. Wouldn’t you know, the closest mall is the one where I worked in a fancy department store. What turned out as a celebration of the day of her birth, was becoming a long stroll down memory lane. The better half kept poking me and giving me a grin.
As we passed by our first house, he went to point it out to her and our daughter, who was looking at her phone and not at us, commented, “Yep, that’s where you and mom lived, and a half the block up, you met at that gas station.” Well, OK. So maybe the kids have heard that story once or 40 times.
We arrived at the mall, and we decided to park up top where I used to park when I worked there. We walked in the very door where I worked, and there in my place was another older teen bored to tears at that department store checkout. At this point, it was funny. As we maneuvered through the mall, we noticed all the changes but as I looked at the man beside me, it was weird to see he hasn’t changed much in some ways.
He’s still the cocky man who always has the last word and also the man who speeds up to make sure he opens the door for me to walk through first. He still has a crooked smile that weakens me and makes my heart flutter. But in many ways he’s changed. There’s a touch of gray at his temples, and he’s slower to speak. He thinks first so when he does speak, it carries more weight.
I guess that was where my mind was when I caught a glimpse of myself in a store mirror display. At first I didn’t recognize me. Maybe it’s because my mind was bouncing back and forth between the past and present. But maybe it’s because in my head I’m still that 19 year old girl. Sure of myself but unsure of the world. Holding the hand of a boy that made me feel brave. But the reflection was of a woman approaching middle age, two teen daughters and a long marriage on the books to show for it. She’s more gray than brown now.
And frankly, she looked pretty good standing there next to her better half.

A former resident of Lava Hot Springs, Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion.  She continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.