For Christmas, I received a scanner that scans slides into digital images. For someone of my generation who loves to take photos, it is not strange to find shelves filled with boxes and trays of slides. The job of converting these thousands of encapsulated memories into the digital age is a daunting task. However, with a little time on hand, I grabbed a box and found our engagement slides that we took ourselves (with a timer and running into the frame, hopefully gaining our composure before the photo was shot, but not always - some had us falling over each other, bursting into laughter and as I look back on them, those are the best and we should have used them on the wedding announcement instead of the more serious, contemplative ones).
As I retrieved each image, a flood of memories and emotions came rushing back. (NOTE: Typically, when one takes the time and is brave enough to truly look at images of oneself decades earlier, it's a scary and intimidating, often embarrassing and sometimes painful experience and reality check - but I did it anyway, and I came away feeling nostalgic and longing again for an innocence and sweetness lost). It was nearly 28 years ago next month. I was just 21 years old - merely a babe - a returned missionary of just a few months, not even a year back from all the emotions associated with that incredible life-changing experience, including an equally life-altering bromance. She was back from her mission just months as well. And here we were, arms around each other, in love! Yes, we were in love! I was in love! In my innocence I was enamored with the idea of marriage and the idea that this beautiful young lady was in love with me. She completed me. She filled me up. She was my princess, my sweetness, my dear.
I look deep into the faces of these images now and can't help but wonder who these people are staring back at me so beautifully. I was surprised to note how "hot" we look. She was radiant and gorgeous, and I was a real keeper, dare I say, a young man full of the cuteness of ripe youth that is stunning - I don't remember ever thinking that I was good looking, but the eyes and smile of this boy staring back at me, so filled with hope and purpose and enthusiasm for life, are handsome and beautiful!
And I wonder... who are these people? Who is this boy staring back at me from my past? Was that really me? Was I really that naive, that optimistic about the future? Where is that boy now? Where has he gone? The lines and wounds of age and experience have scarred and clouded the vision of hope. The youth is forever lost. I hate getting old. I don't want to admit that life is passing on. I continue to think of myself still as that youthful skinny, charming student at BYU, devoted MTC teacher, recently engaged to an amazingly powerful, confident, intelligent woman who loved me, and me in love with her (and unable to process the emotions I felt inside for other men, incapable of accepting those feelings for what they were).
Am I he? Where did he go? Who am I?