Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What A Difference Ten Years Makes

I am missing Brian a lot today. I'm copying all our CDs onto my computer so I don't have to move hundreds of discs to Austin (I'm still keeping my favorite discs for car trips -- the Evita soundtrack and The Pizza Tapes have some heavy playtime ahead, I suspect). In the process, I'm remembering a lot of music from the past. Granted, most of what Brian liked was music from the past (versus the majority of today's music, which is over-processed Velveeta pop). But I'm referring to music from our past -- stuff we used to listen to, years ago, then put aside and sort of forgot about.

See, Brian would go in phases with music. He'd find a song, a record, a band he liked...and that's all we'd listen to for the next however-many-months it was until he found something else with which to obsess. He'd play the same song 3 or 4 times in a row in the car if he really liked it. Thus, some songs or musicians are forever rooted in my mind to specific times of our lives -- Roger Miller was big with Brian in 2004, the year we got married (he demanded the mic from the DJ at our reception so he could do a Karaoke-type sing-a-long to "Chug-A-Lug"); then Willie and Waylon in the first half of 2005, as I was graduating from law school and sitting for the bar exam; the obsession with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young peaked around 2006, when we were settling into our house in Waukee and as some friends got married (he and the groom played Suite: Judy Blue Eyes repeatedly on the jukebox and sang along at the bar after the reception). You get the idea...

All these memories came up today going through our large CD collection, and in going through his LPs (yes, he was one of those LP devotees too). I decided I wanted to look at pictures of Brian, so I got on a friend's Facebook page to look at an album he had of "Boka" pictures. I'm not sure if it comforted me or made me miss his smile, his laugh, and his arm around my shoulder even more...but that's not the point. There was one picture that stood out, for an unlikely reason, and that served as the inspiration for this post.

The picture is dated January 21, 2001. We are at a party, standing in a doorway, looking at the camera. Brian has a kind of goofy, surprised-eyes look, so it's not an especially great a picture of us. What I did notice, though, when I was looking at the date printed on the corner of the picture (remember when we had to develop film and that was on most pictures?) was that I was wearing a ring on my left ring finger. My sapphire and diamond ring, set in yellow gold. The first ring he -- or any boy -- had ever given me (well, with the exception of a plastic blinking ring Brian gave me on one of our first dates!). A "promise ring," I guess you'd say.

It hit me that that picture was taken ten years ago. In ten years, the gold sapphire ring on that finger got replaced by a diamond engagement ring, then a wedding ring...which is now a "widow's ring" on my right hand. It's stunning what can happen in ten years' time, almost unfathomable. We went from dating, to engaged, to married, to death having done us part....all in ten years. I went from cute, 20-year-old coed girlfriend (who definitely only had fruit punch in that red cup!) to 30 years old and widowed since that photo was snapped, yet that seems like just yesterday.

It's amazing how much can happen in ten years, and yet how quickly that time can fly by. I don't think I'll ever really understand that juxtaposition, which keeps recurring throughout all our lives whether or not we notice.

I can't begin to imagine myself in January 2021, at forty years of age. Will I be a real estate hotshot in Austin? A mediator in San Antonio? A therapist in Boston? A hippie folk star's wife who travels around the country with the children in tow, cutting up organic vegetables for them? Will I be single? Married? Divorced? I can't begin to imagine, but I'm fairly certain of one thing: When I look back at pictures of myself from January 2011, as a thirty-year-old widow beginning a new life in a new and wonderful city, I'll think, "Wow...that seems like just yesterday. What a difference ten years makes."

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