The other night I spent hours lost in a photo album composed of throwaway photos that hadn't made it into my real, more curated albums. I hadn't looked at these pictures in ages and I was fascinated by the huge range of iterations of self. How many people can one person be in one lifetime? How many lives can we cram into one?
There were photos from Jewish Cotillion and Homecoming, awkward middle school dances and long distance road trips. There was a lot of huge hair, white sneakers and acid washed jeans. There were men whose names I can't remember and friends whose names I will never forget. In the middle of it all was my laminated computer pass from seventh grade at Tuckahoe Middle School, the same year and institution my son inhabits now. Who the hell was I with that turquoise sweatshirt over an orange polo with a string of pearls and Native American tribal earrings? Was the woman I am now already planted in the girl I was then?
It was not too long after that photo was taken that I began to gather the throng that would become my tribe, that would make me and betray me. The kids that would drink and explore and trespass and drug and kiss and hold and destroy me. The group that was so big and so real I thought I’d be disloyal if I ever loved anyone outside of them again. I certainly doubted I could ever love as much. That any of us survived our tangled reckless formation of teenage sex, alcoholism, and hedonism is a miracle. Not all of us did. I was such an innocent child in that hall pass, young and on the cusp of everything, just like my son is now.