You know what I love? Going on vacation. I should do it more often. Two weeks ago I took a trip to San Diego, which was lovely and amazing and fantastic and wonderful and lots of other words that I tend to apply to both important life experiences and particularly good pizza (but I repeat myself).
I went with my friend Emily and she unwisely allowed me to plan our itinerary. I tried to warn her that I have military fangirl tendencies* but she wouldn't listen. I think she regretted this when we ended up on the Russian submarine that is part of the Maritime Museum. Also later on when my camera and I wanted to spend 4 hours on an aircraft carrier. I probably should have joined the Navy in my younger years. I may have missed my calling in life.
Fortunately for Emily I only planned for one day of "Oh my gosh, look at that navy shipyard!" We spent the next day in Balboa Park, and we both touched dinosaur poo.
(Yes, I got sunburned. Laugh. Laugh at my pain.)
Anyway. Day three of our trip included a visit to Sea World. I've been to Sea World before, but it was a while ago. And by "a while ago" I mean "in 1987." A few things have changed at Sea World in the past 26 years, but it still felt vaguely familiar to me because I remember being there when I was little. I didn't think I would remember, because I had a traumatic encounter with a puffer fish and I thought I probably repressed most of that particular vacation. But I got back to the penguin exhibit, and I saw this:
and I remembered. (Unfortunately, I also remembered the puffer fish.)
Roo is the same age now that I was then. Roo is at an age where she will remember things. I suspect that, because she is so clever, she will probably have memories of being younger than she is now. I have memories of being about 18 months old. (I know that Science would probably call shenanigans on that, but I know what I remember.) But my clearer memories start at about three-and-a-half, Roo's age.
Which brings me to my point (hey, I've got one this time!). I've been more aware during the last couple of visits that Roo is forming memories of me. It's made me more than usually grateful for the progress I've made and for the person I've become. I'm far from perfect - every day I seem to discover some new flaw or weakness** - but I am so much better than I used to be, and I think I'm starting to be the kind of person Roo can be proud of.
I certainly wasn't there a few years ago. I forget that at times. Fortunately(?) I got a reminder the other day. I decided to start using Twitter again last week because I don't want to miss my chance to be personally victimized by Amanda Bynes. While I was trying to decide what to say to my two followers, I felt this compulsion to read through old tweets, and it was educational. I used to be a hot mess, you guys. If you don't believe me, feel free to browse the blog archive. Scary stuff.
But I think my wrong turn down memory lane was useful. Sometimes I need a reminder of how far I've come. Four years ago I was unemployed and poor and alone and eight months pregnant. Just look at me now - still poor and alone, but now I've touched dinosaur poo!
Seriously, though. I used to have more issues than Newsweek, and I am so, so grateful that at that time Roo was too small to get a sense of my personality. I'd hate for her to remember me the way I was when she was a baby. I hate to remember me the way I was when she was a baby.
I have decided, however, that every now and then I need to remember. Especially lately. I've been frustrated with where I am in life (single, poor, have touched dinosaur poo). I thought that my vacation would be a break from feeling like the last single woman on earth, but it wasn't. I felt like I was surrounded by couples in love - is it normal to see so many kissing people in public? - and the fact that Emily spent a lot of time text messaging her boyfriend didn't help. (I still love you, Emily.)
But there are worse things in the world than being single, and I've been through those things. More importantly, I've made it through them, stronger, happier, and better. And that's something worth remembering.
*Raise your hand if some of your happiest childhood memories are of watching "Wings of the Luftwaffe" on television with your father.
Just me? Okay.
**A comprehensive list of my faults and weaknesses is available upon request.