"Mom! We found a picture of you in a bikini!"
Gack! This is how I was greeted when I drug in from my shift at Wal-Mart late last night. Seems Steve was looking for some old photos from his Marine Corps days, and he had recruited the kids to help him dig through boxes in the attic.
Sure, my kids had heard stories about the itty-bitty, black-and-white polka dot bikini, the bikini that couldn't quite handle the surf zone off the Pacific coast. But they'd never seen actual pictures of it.
The girls waved the offending photograph under my nose, giggling. "Look, Mom!"
So I pulled my reading glasses off the top of my head and checked out the thin, brown, long-ago me in the photo. "Girls, all I can say is, this kind of attire is not appropriate. Not even if your mom wore it a hundred years ago!"
A few other things hit me about that photo. For one thing, I was so thin. Funny, though, how that young 20-something me never felt thin. I don't remember feeling particularly fat, either, but I do remember a vague consciousness that fatness lurked like a hidden enemy, waiting to pounce on me if I let my guard down. I wasn't a dieter, but neither was I completely free to simply enjoy the body God had given me, the way He'd made it. Today, as a solid, "womanly" 50-year-old, I would not want to be as thin as that young woman in the photograph...but it's kind of sad, too, to think that Young Me didn't fully appreciate who she was at the time.
Another thought: how much we enjoyed that short assignment in California. Steve's school was at Camp Del Mar, right on the beach. At lunch time, I'd drive over to the base and meet him for a picnic on the beach, where we'd enjoy the sun and the wind and the crashing of the surf. Weekends, the beach was a cheap, relaxing date. And there were the after-dinner walks around the lakes adjacent to our apartment complex, at the park where Steve taught me to throw and catch a softball.
There were afternoon runs with my neighbor, Debbie Stevens. How I enjoyed the time to talk and decompress with this delightful friend after a day of work! Steve and I made forays into new and unfamiliar territory - touring San Diego with Pat and Teri Arter, California natives, in their totally cool VW bus. A weekend jaunt to Sequoia National Forest. The San Diego Wild Animal Park.
And once in a blue moon, we actually had a visitor from home, someone who spoke that sweet Tennessee twang.
Today, I am not thin, not brown, and you won't catch me dead in a bikini. I don't jog 5 miles every day, or try to see how far out from the shoreline I can swim. But I do not look at that picture of me from the past with longing, wishing I could somehow go back to the days of my youth. Nope. I look at that bikini-clad girl-woman and smile, and think how very grateful I am for the journey God has brought me on - thankful for where I've been, for the things He's taught me on this often bumpy and painful path, for the things He's showing me in this place today.
Anticipating the good things ahead, over the next hill, on the distant horizon.
3 weeks ago