I remember the first time I felt old.
We were coming home from the hospital after Noah was born. I was riding in the back seat as Matt drove through the mountains of snow that had been packed down on the streets for the last few days. We stopped by a drugstore on our way home to pick up a few things. While Matt went in to pick up our items I stayed and soaked up my new found joy. I was enamored by little immature baby expression and scared out of my mind at my new found responsibilities. Matt returned, got in the car and looked in the rear-view mirror “you have bags under your eyes, Annie. You look tired”. In the entirety of our relationship, Matt had yet to ever make a negative comment on my appearance. (This isn’t considered “negative” by many standards, certainly, not by mine). He clearly didn’t intent to insult me, and in all honesty, it didn’t…But for the first time, I looked at myself in my small compact mirror in the backseat of our tiny Pontiac Vibe and felt old.
10 years ago, I was getting married to the love of my life… I was living 1.5 hours from my family and cried every single time I left home… I was in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life… I was four years into a ten year struggle with an eating disorder that would ultimately steal my identity for a decade.
10 years ago feels light years away, and yet, I can vividly remember the color of underwear I was wearing on my wedding day (because I was informed they showed through my dress during pictures), I can remember how the second still life from my oil painting class at Emporia State University was so elegantly arranged and I was convinced I wanted to be an artist… I can remember the smell of our Asian neighbors cooking in our first apartment and how they insisted I join them for tea in the afternoons.
10 years later, I am married to the love my life… I am living 24+ hours from my family and still cry every single time I leave… I am a college graduate with prospects of graduate school on the horizon… I am slowly discovering my own identity and what I am passionate about… Most importantly, I am the mother to the most incredible, strong, persistent young boy on this earth and pregnant with a child that I have so earnestly prayed for. I can also say that I am no longer struggling with bulimia.
I wouldn’t trade those 10 years for anything. I have been healed, been broken, gained tiny smile lines around my eyes and a few pounds along the way. I have moved halfway across the United States, watched my husband walk across the stage at Notre Dame to receive his Doctoral degree, and witnessed a miracle in my son walking. I have welcomed baby after beautiful baby in my big loving family, trained for a half marathon, taken up yoga, and found a deep calling to write. I wouldn’t trade those 10 years for anything.
While 30 may not be “aged” to some, to 20 year old Briana, it’s old.
From where I stand, my life has only been molded into a much better model, and for that, I am filled with gratitude.