Today Is Not Yesterday

Before moving from New York in 1999 I gave away everything I didn’t to bring with me (winter clothes, old pornography) and shipped everything I would need in Los Angeles (records, record player, t-shirts).  There were a few things that I didn’t fit either categories, they were things I didn’t want to get rid of but didn’t have room to bring with me (TV, some books and photo albums etc…).   Luckily I had a place to store the things I wanted to come back for.  Since I was moving to LA to live with my girlfriend, I could leave my extra stuff at her parents house.  Sounds perfect right?  Well it would be if that girlfriend and I didn’t split up, but we did.  Since that girl and I broke up eight years ago we have both met other people who were better suited for us and married them, life has gone on beautifully but my stuff was still sitting in my ex girlfriend’s parents basement about three blocks from where I went to high school.

Honestly there was only one thing I was concerned about, the photos.  Several years ago my mother put all of our family photos in a storage center that was destroyed by a flood, this meant there was only one photographic record of my childhood.  Over the years I have wanted to get it back but every time I went back to New York I left without going to get the pictures, since I knew it was safe I didn’t worry about it too much.  A few months ago I heard from my ex who told me that she asked her mother to send it to me, after a few reminders she did and when I got home from work I found an album of photos I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years.  Pictures like this one of my father and I from 1976:

As I flipped through the album I realized that it only has pictures of me and it covered my entire life from birth to age 14.  By the time I was 14 our family had seen a lot of difficult times but we survived.  However, the next year was very tough for me.   We had somehow slid down the socio-economic ladder farther than even we had been before and my teenage angst filled self reacted poorly to the downturn.  We had moved from my hometown to another nearby neighborhood and I wasn’t adjusting well.  Quite frankly I was tired of living in crappy apartments that were always right beside train tracks or highways, I was tired of caring for my younger siblings all the time and I hated the school I had to go to.  I acted out until it was strongly suggested that I find another school to go to. With things not going well at school or at home it was decided that I’d be better off at another school.   My mother and I had always been close so it was a tough decision for everyone but I decided to go stay with my father, as hard as it might of been on me it was probably harder on my mother who felt like she had let me down.

Three months later, at Christmas 1989. we gathered at my moms as a family again and I felt like a stranger.  The rest of my family was getting ready to try their luck in a new state and my mother asked me if I wanted to go.  As much as I wanted to say yes I couldn’t, while my father had his faults it was slightly more stable and I had settled in to my new routine.  While we didn’t exchange many gifts my mother gave me that photo album as a present.  She had pulled the best photos from years worth of pictures and put them together for me.  As we flipped through the album together I felt less like a stranger and more like the kid in the pictures.  We stopped on one of the two of us, taken years before.  In the picture she’s picked me up and I’m smiling like there’s no where else I want to be.  She put her hand over the picture and said:

“We used to laught a lot more didn’t we.”

I didn’t say anything back because she was really saying was “we don’t laugh like that anymore” and I couldn’t bring myself to tell her it was true.  At the end of the day I took the album back to my father’s house, it then followed me to my first apartment before being put away for safekeeping.  Today when it turned up at my house I realized that the heartaches of those days are a lifetime ago.  Things did get better and we did laugh all over again.  Some things about the past can stay in the there.

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26 Comments

Filed under Family

26 responses to “Today Is Not Yesterday

  1. betheboy

    Thanks JustJenn, the question is: Does this post make me sound like the biggest crybaby ever or just one of the biggest? Boo-hoo, my life was difficult when I was growing up.

  2. alycesmythee

    Not a lick seems boo-hoo to me. In fact, this post very adeptly hits how we remember things, and what, ultimately, ends up being important.

    My childhood was insanely different from yours, but this recollection still sounds damn familiar.

  3. Neither. It sounds like you, from the heart, which are the best posts of all.

    Wow, that sounded sappy. p.s. I am on medication.

  4. You are so not a crybaby. Trust me on this one, please?

    And I really really REALLY liked this entry.

  5. goddamn will, i’m sobbing over here. you can spin the words, and you are all heart in this one. i bet it felt good to get it out.

    this sentence got me the most: “In the picture she’s picked me up and I’m smiling like there’s no where else I want to be. ”

    hours after luke was born, i was holding him in the hospital and i began crying. i was praying over and over that no matter what i did in my stupid life, i would always do right by him. so far, so good.

    you ripped my heart out again today, but in a good way per your usual.

    i’m not sure what the “crybaby” crap is about, but you are most definitely a man of courage. being old school “tough” and “strong” can land you in a prison of your own making.

  6. Definitely not a crybaby, Will. Thanks for posting this.

  7. melissa

    You are amazing. Thank you for this.

  8. Wow—-
    I’m a so touched by that story. Will you are not a crybaby. I think that is one of our best life lessons , being able to cry and feel sensitive about things that have happened in our lives.
    I think it makes us who we are. Thank you so much for sharing that story. And I’m so happy you got your photo album back.

    I have only known you for such a short time and only thru the cyber world, but I feel like we have been the best of friends forever. You have a beautiful way of writing about your life PLEASE don’t ever stop.
    ((Hugs))

    P.S. I know why Nina snatched you up!

  9. You are the living image of your da.

    Brilliant post.

  10. The point isn’t that your life was tough. The point is that you got through it, and you still love your family.

  11. A lot of kids don’t pick themselves up after having a tough childhood.
    Hope you have many more years of laughter ahead of you

  12. theletterkae

    My parents have been married for 35 years but neither my mom nor my dad has never put my baby, toddler, school, or teenage pictures together in any album. I think my baby pictures are in a box somewhere in the garage and the rest are scattered in the photo drawer that no longer opens because it’s overstuffed with pictures.

    It’s a touching gesture on your mom’s part. And it’s incredibly sweet that someone took the time to organize that period of your life for you to look back on. I’d cry too if I received something like that.

  13. if will is a cry baby i am a flipping zebra.

    even though i barely know you, i know that you can take anything and make it touching and funny still. and that’s awesome. and it takes a lot of balls to look back at something that could be heartbreaking and go “yep, don’t need that with me to blame things on.” and let go.

    you’re awesome. thanks for sharing this post.

  14. betheboy

    Thanks everybody. I’m glad you guys enjoyed this one. Honestly it was difficult to write. I started it with the idea of just posting a picture and it just snowballed into something bigger.

  15. This is why I married you. I’ll ‘splain more in a blog post later. Je promis!

  16. aliastaken

    Lucky bastard.

  17. Burn

    This was a real tear-jerker. *sigh. India Arie always said, even the day after tomorrow will one day be yesterday… this too shall pass. And I’m glad that after it did, you found the laughter again.

    Man-on-man internet hugs. LOL

  18. betheboy

    Thanks for the support Burn. On a related note, it’s India Arie’s birthday today.

  19. kim

    Absolutely! HUGE fucking cry baby!

  20. kim

    (in truth, you made me wanna call my mom. was a beautiful post.)

  21. AJ

    Nothing wrong with being honest. Nothing wrong with being in touch with your emotions. It’s men who are afraid of such things that are the real pussies.

    Great post, Will.

  22. vintagecaveman

    I didn’t read this post. I don’t have the time to right now.
    Judging by the comments, I think I might have to.
    Just commenting because everyone did, and I didn’t
    want to look like the ass who didn’t.

    Your Friend,
    Caveman the mood wrecker

  23. bongo

    I think I speak for the silent majority when I say that it’s time for you to post a photo or two of your mom, as well as her friend who slipped you the tongue at the museum that time.

  24. I guess I’m in the minority thinking that this is actually an uplifting, here’s to better times post. I think it’s summed up in this: I realized that the heartaches of those days are a lifetime ago. Things did get better and we did laugh all over again. Some things about the past can stay in the there.

    A lot of us have had shitty things happen in our childhoods and/or with our families, but don’t share it. Thank you for actually sharing though. It gives perspective.

  25. Tag

    Dude you are almost as much of a crybaby as Caveman is an ass.

    What a pussy.

    I like you both.

    Great post Will, just for that I will ride my skateboard downtown and toast your wife and say hi proving I am not the pussy you are. Or something like that.

    Seriously (before I get hate mail from fans mistaking my sarcasm), I hope you never stop writing brother.. :-)

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