Yesteryear / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 21 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.  Often I phone it in.**

I started writing tonight thinking that it would be a fun exercise to go back through all of my old blogs and find all the stories in which I complained about kids before I had one of my own. Instead I got caught up searching through the hundreds of posts I’ve written. I started blogging while I still lived in Austin in June, 2004. Somewhere else in the world, people I now work with were just turning 10. I do that thing a lot now—measure what I was doing at a given point in my life against the age of people I work with. I think it’s because I’m learning to cope with the unyielding grey streak that has developed along my hairline. 

Anyway, I made the mistake of reading a bunch of those old posts. Often I can look back at my younger self and feel a sense of compassion for the poor choices I’ve made along the way. Things like: losing my baby ring when my mom specifically told me not to take it, substituting decaf beans when we ran out of regular at my barista job, dating my yoga teacher, and you know, other relationship missteps. It’s almost as if I can see the form of my younger self standing next to me. In those moments I want to put my arm around her narrow shoulders and gently tell her it all works out. 

I can’t say I felt the same compassion for the old me who wrote a ton of shitty posts. Mostly I want to sit her down and tell her, too, that it all works out, so be kinder. And yourself. Your future self will look back and cringe at the insincerity. Your future self will see the defensive and cold exterior you kept hearing about but couldn't see. So always be yourself.

This must be my time for back in the day. Yesterday at work I discovered that my old MySpace profile had made its way around our office. I thought I closed that like almost 10 years ago, which is about the last time that I had posted a picture there. (Elizabeth, if you happen to be reading this, there’s a cute photo of us in there!) It’s been a while since I’ve felt my face red from embarrassment. Eventually though, embarrassment gave way to eyeroll-they're-just-pictures and also genuine happiness. I could have made better jewelry choices, but I smiled remembering times which will never be again and friends I haven’t seen in much too long. 

P.S. Total aside and has nothing to do with anything, but I want to write it down so I remember it forever: My three-year old got out of the bath on Sunday, looked down, and said, “Look, Mommy and Daddy, my penis is so cute and little! Awwww!” And then he walked around the house randomly telling us throughout the rest of the night, “My penis is so cute.” We stood there trying really, really hard to be supportive.