Phases of our lives that happen to someone else

Our car pulled up at the end of the long rural driveway that leads to the farm I lived on for the first sixteen years of my life. As I looked over the property, the nooks and crannies of the place felt both intimately familiar to the marrow of my bones and foreign at the same time. I can’t believe I used to live there. That feels like it happened to someone else, I thought. As those unspoken thoughts ran through my head, my mother said out loud, “I can’t believe I lived there for 24 years.”

With my dad on the farm.

That was on Easter weekend when we drove the hour up Highway 417 to visit my mother. On our way back from our lunch together, we did what people used to do as a form of entertainment: We went “for a drive.”

We drove by my old high school. Memories, fresh and distant at the same time, popped around my head. In high school I was a shy girl who followed every rule and never challenged authority. That girl is so different from me now she feels like a different person. (The one time I got kicked out of class was when I rolled my eyes at a history teacher for showing yet another film instead of actually teaching us something.)

1980s hair

We stopped at the corner of that rural road  beside the former one-room schoolhouse where my mother used to teach. I missed attending that school by one year. It was still open when I was five, but there was no kindergarten in our area at the time. That school closed and I started Grade 1 “in town.” I remember the building as a school and my own start at education, but it’s so long ago and far away and different that it feels like it happened to someone else.

The old one-room schoolhouse where my mother came to teach. That’s how she met my father.

The trip triggered memories of other phases of my life: university years, when the things I did had to have been done by a different person; the early working years, when I managed to have a lot of fun with no money; and the thrilling exhaustion of new motherhood, a time that turned me into a different person more than anything else could have ever do.

Statistically I have thirty or forty years ahead of me.That’s a lot of room for new phases for me (the one that I am in any given moment) to live to the fullest, and for me (the future me) to look back on someday.

What will those phases will be? I can’t wait to find out. 


4 thoughts on “Phases of our lives that happen to someone else

  1. marianbeaman

    Old photos have that effect, evoking memories from days of yore. As I write memoir, I constantly remark to my husband, “I can’t believe I was ever that person,” but the pictures prove otherwise. Transformation – that’s what happens if we live long enough.

    By the way, I like the optimism in your last sentence. Write on, Arlene!


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