When I think of a new calendar year starting up, my gut reaction is to take an assessment of the last year and make a plan to do better in the new year because it seems that’s what this “holiday” is all about. But I do that all the time anyway, stuck in a continuous spiral of self-reflection. I’ve always been leery of this blog being used as a chronicle of events so I’m loathe to start that habit now.
That said, 2019, with all its ups and downs, was a good year. Ivy is starting her last semester of college in a few weeks, all our pets are still alive despite three of the dogs being diagnosed with heart disease and the cat still chugging along with kidney failure. Ryan and I are still working at our respective jobs, though there have been some changes in mine. We lost some good friends, which was sobering, and got me into action mode: put everything in a trust, write a will, make a plan to pay off the house early…And overall I became disillusioned with writing fiction and instead-because I need to do SOMETHING-started covering our concrete wall with mosaic artwork, one broken piece of Dollar Tree dish at a time. I’ve seen several of my writing friends do the same, and suddenly my Facebook feed shows a lot more artwork. But that’s a whole other blog to be written someday.
Recently I started the chore, and it is a CHORE even if it brings back good memories, of scanning all my old photos. For weeks now, the kitchen table has served as a photo scanning station. Even as a child I was a recorder of events, in photos and in words. In middle school, I sold Olympic Greeting Cards door to door to save money for my fancy Kodak Instamatic.
In looking at all the old pictures, I was reminded who I was then, and how little I’ve changed, on the inside.
I was always taking pictures, writing in journals, or making mental notes.
In the pictures I scanned, there were a lot of my first apartment. After that I moved up in the world, got an apartment on the second floor which was much roomier, lost my job, moved in with a friend, got a new job, then moved back to the original attic apartment. This all happened within a span of two years. There’s one particular picture of me, that I had someone take, when I moved back “home” to that first apartment. In the album, I’d added a label: “The old-new apartment, the old-new Carly.”
I was so happy then to get my life back to how it was, back where I belonged. Shortly after I met Ivy’s dad, Arnie G. We managed to squeeze into that tiny apartment for a year.
Somehow over the years I turned from the Carly I used to be, to morphing into an always-upset, always-worried Carly, who felt the need to control everything. I spent so much time and energy trying to get life back on an even keel where I could just be.
I won’t rehash the Husband #2 time frame, when I had to fight all the time to be who I really was. It’s enough to say that I left and have been creeping back to “me” ever since. Seeing the old pictures I scanned, shows me that where I am now, happy in California with Ryan, I’m finally back to who I used to be. This picture is from a trip to New York City I took with my best friend at the time in 1989. Looking at it, I can see that except for being a bit chubbier, carrying some extra Carly around, I’m not much different.
The light is back in my eyes, my sense of frivolity is restored, and in general, creativity and oodles of imagination that borders on lunacy defines me.
Seeing these pictures also reminded me how much happier I was with shorter hair. So I cut it last week and felt instantly twenty-years younger.
Ryan encourages the reemerging of that old Carly, fostering that child and doing what he can to bring “me” back. For Christmas he got me a new Lego set of a VW Van, and two pop up books. I know some women like jewelry but for me, these gifts remind me that he knows exactly who I really am, who I always was, and loves me more for it.
I was pleased to see Ivy’s Instagram this morning. She too is making the old to new comparison, stressing that everything she’s been through brought her exactly back to who she was meant to be.
Below are the side by side pictures she posted. It makes me so proud that she gets it, that whatever happens, the biggest accomplishment is remembering who you are, and not letting any circumstance pull you away from that. And if you do get pulled away, you have to reel yourself back in.
Two days ago I saw a crazy red plaid blazer. I smiled and told myself that this is exactly what the old Carly would have worn and loved, much the way I wore flannel shirts in high school, and didn’t really care what people thought, because I thought it looked cute.
On that note, happy new year! May you all remember who you are and rediscover yourselves in who you may have become. We are all happy souls on the inside. In 2020, let that happy soul thrive!