Last week, I did some spring cleaning in the naive hope that it would help prompt the actual season to show up in Minnesota. For the record, it did not.

As I dug through packed bins that I had vowed to tackle once a week when we moved to our now not-so-new house seven years ago, I happened upon a shoebox of old photos from my high school years. The kind of photos that stopped me and took my breath away. Like a glimpse of a time that seemed like it was just yesterday, but was actually a lifetime ago.

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They took me back to years when my dad had a head of thick, black hair. When pink, sequin, puff-sleeved dresses were all the rage. When there wasn’t enough Aqua Net in the world to keep my bangs high enough and my feathered sides winged enough. When I was young and unwrinkled, heading to homecoming and football games.  Years when I could still hug my grandparents and walk in the front door of my best friend’s house without knocking.

And as I flipped nostalgically through that dogeared stack of wonder years, captured sneakily by my parents back when film still needed to be developed and disposable cameras were the norm, something hit me like a ton of bricks.

My own kid is as old as I was in that stack of photos. These are the memories he is actually making right now. 

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Thinking about this journey of life and its passage of time does something to me that I honestly don’t know how to even articulate. It’s kind of like the waving of the weeping willow tree, bending me between the winds of the present and past. Wondering where my own years have disappeared to and how I could possibly be in a place in time where my children’s lives are now unfolding into a time of parties and prom suits, varsity meets, late-night joy rides, and college visits. A time that seems like I just stepped out of myself.

And I guess that’s really the thing that hit me. How I am now the one on the parent side of the camera, trying to capture time for them. So all of their moments, which in a heartbeat will be distant memories, will be somewhere on the Cloud waiting for them to rediscover when they are on the parent side of the lens.

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Amy Keyes

Amy Keyes is a middle school teacher and freelance writer in St. Paul. When she's not cheering too loudly while spectating at her teenagers' sports, she's running, working out, binge watching recommended series on tv, or hanging out with her dog.

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