This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary by going back to the town where we bought our first house and had our first child. It was amazing to be transported back in time like that. When we sold that house and moved to another state, our oldest child was just 15 months old and we had been married for three years. We were YOUNG! So young, too young to even know that we knew next to nothing about life. This weekend, as we walked the same streets where we'd pushed our first child in a stroller, I remembered the old feelings, the conversations, the dreams, the fears, the plans, all of it felt so close, so close that I could have just walked right back into that life and picked up right where I was at that time. Things I hadn't thought of in years came flowing back into my mind and I was overcome by waves of emotion and nostalgia.
It was easy to play, "What if?", wondering how our lives would be different today if we had made different decisions. At this point, I can see how easily our lives could have followed many different paths and even feel a sense of regret that we didn't get to see how some of those other phantom lives would have turned out too. There were so many things I would say to my younger self. People may have even said some of them to me at the time, but I wasn't paying attention. Mostly, I would have said to relax and savor these moments more, that the clichés are true, time really does fly and some day you'll miss this.
We were also struck by how much our world has changed since that time. No computers, no cell phones, no easy access to the happenings of distant family and friends. We had only one car, no cable, and little money. Now the little baby in that house is a senior in high school. The young parents have owned four more houses since then and have moved to two different states. They have five children and are busy with school, sports, and church activities. Four cars sit in the driveway. Media from cell phones, computers, and cable invade their lives at all hours of the day. The husband travels a lot and the wife juggles the kids and home.
But deep down, those young twenty-somethings are still the same people they were all those years ago. They still love each other and want to experience their lives together. Twenty years sounds like a long time to be married. We don't feel it though. We don't feel as wise as we thought we would. We're still learning how to love, to sacrifice, to support, to share. There have been hard times and times when we may have wished to quit, but those times are far outweighed by all the blessings, all the laughter, and all the experiences we've shared. I hope we're privileged to enjoy many more walks down memory lane together. May we look back on where we are right now in another 20 years with as much love and gratitude as we did this weekend.