Sometimes, in the quiet of my home, in the earliest parts of the morning, I find a space where I can sort of remember the person I used to be. The “me” who was me before I was married. Before I ever got pregnant. Before I had one child. Then another. The me before I was mama.
It may sound strange, but I can almost assuredly pinpoint the year the I became who I am. In 2011, I had gone though what I thought was a devastating break-up. I had dated and lived with the same guy for almost two years, and I was so comfortable. I was traveling and working and partying and, somewhere down the road, I would become a wife and a mother. After all, I was 27- surely marriage and motherhood were right around the corner. I thought everything was aligning, I thought everything was falling into place for me.
And then we broke-up.
I was heartbroken and so sad. Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t just the heartache, it was the disappearance of all these plans I had made in my head. I felt marriage and kids and the future I had anticipated slip through my fingers.
Over Thanksgiving of that year, I met a girl in San Francisco. She was a complete stranger, but we started talking and I began going on and on and on about how sad I was, and then apologizing for (probably inappropriately) sharing way too much information. And this magical spirit of a person looked at me with her huge green eyes and said, “Purge this. Speak what you need to speak and purge these feelings. Then you move on.”
And then on December 31, 2011, I said good-bye. I told all my grief that our relationship was over, and it was time to go forward. I promised myself that in 2012, if I wasn’t going to find love for myself, I wanted to find it everywhere else that I could.
I started photographing. I started taking pictures of love however I could find it.
Weddings. Babies. Best Friends. Fundraisers. Parties. Happy Parents. Happy Couples. Happy Kids.
And then I fled the state. The state of Ohio and the state of my sad self of 2011.
I packed my Hyundai Elantra with my dog and everything I owned and moved to Houston, Texas to my very own 500 sq. ft. apartment. I didn’t even have furniture. I had maybe $500 in my bank account and I outfitted my new place with various items from Ikea. I found a job teaching at an incredible school district, with sweet kids I felt so lucky to be around. I made friends. I shopped. I watched A LOT of TV, and I gained a whole new appreciation for air conditioning.
I can still remember how good it felt to be on my own. How good it felt to be free in so many ways. This was the me before I there was mama.
By July of 2012, I felt comfortable in my own weird journey. I met Clay, and I was open and happy and free to love him as much as I wanted to. We traveled and laughed and explored and rushed into parenthood, excited and brave.
Now, only a few years later, in the midst of the funny chaos that has become my life, between feeling like a maid and a nanny in my own home with my own kids, I like to remember the person I was because it’s a person I want my kids to know and it’s still very much a part of me. For now, our lives are scheduled and routine and comfortable- concentrated on safety and learning to share and being gentle. But I’m excited for the someday when they’re a little older and I can show them the world the way I learned to experience it.