God Bless Facebook. It opened up all kinds of doors into my past, reuniting me with friends from high school and college and all my past jobs. It helps me keep tabs on family that lives far away and gives me a place to post all kinds of goofy pictures of my kids and my cats.
Unfortunately, there's a flip side to all that fun. People keep digging up old memories, or worse, old pictures and sharing them. Not that I have a problem with most of the old ones - I was younger and thinner then. It's just odd seeing myself back in my physical prime and realize how far away that seems (and feels!) from here in middle age.
I was paging through some old photos that an old castmate from a show I performed in had kindly posted, when my daughter came up behind me.
"Oh my God, Mom. Is that - is that...you?" She said, in pure astonishment.
"Yeah, that's me all right. A long time ago, though."
"Mom. You were hot!"
I smiled and thanked her, and then felt the heaviness of that word settle about me.
Mom, you were hot. As in, not anymore, but you used to be. Back then. And it's surprising to see you so because, y'know...you're not now.
I know she didn't mean it to come out that way. Hell, I even remember finding an old black and white picture of my Mom at 15, with her hair in soft waves (instead of short with tight curls, as I always remember her) and a velvet choker around her neck. She looked like a movie star. She certainly looked as I had never remembered her: young.
Maybe that's the beauty of the whole parental process. Our kids never experienced us young and fresh and untried (even if we felt that way in the early days of their lives). They get to love us in the frumpy phase, and see us morph through the lens of the great equalizer: age. They learn to value us not for our luminous beauty or amazing abs (though some parents certainly have those, I'm sure), but for all the other things we contribute to their lives beyond our DNA. It's always quite a revelation when you find that old picture that reminds you that your parents were people once, too.
Back the way we were, when we were the people that they didn't know. And I stare at that picture, and know that girl is still in here, not just as I used to be, but part of who I am.