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Whenever I’m home, I enjoy going through my old things and seeing what I can find. Since The Mom frequently asks me to organise things (by which she means throw things away) the piles are constantly shifting, and I usually turn up a few gems.

This holiday season it was a series of pictures I had hoped still existed but wasn’t sure. They were of an old Californian friend’s visit to Canada. She posted on my Facebook, on the occasion of my 40th birthday, one of these pictures, and I was determined to find the rest.

I happened upon them just after I’d gone through the box I keep with some beads a friend brought me from China. I quite like these beads and usually ask The Mom to come into my room and admire them with me. She humours the request, but I don’t think she quite understands it: usually I just run my fingers over them – they’re really smooth and I like that sort of thing.

Anyhow, the pictures were found and man alive, there was some serious fashion going on there. It was deep in the 80s and though I’d like to think my fashion has progressed since those days, I suspect it hasn’t. Considering in one of them, at least one, I was wearing what I still essentially wear: short hair, a funny look, and an all blue outfit. But never mind, fashion comes and goes, doens’t it?

What I really like about the pictures is looking at The Mom. I always picture her as she is now, but these remind me of what she looked like when she was about my age.

As someone who lives a fairly nomadic, peripatetic lifestyle, it’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like, at my age, to have three young children, a dog, a house, and a husband. I can barely cope with myself and my imaginary friends. But there were all were. The Mom looking on, in the photos, with pride and a certain level of exhaustion. It was an action-packed visit from my Californian friend, and we were, shall we say, not the easiest of children to raise.

The Mom stands there, still as tiny as she is now, smiling as though she’s truly having a blast. And I do believe she was. She gets a kick out of hanging out with us now, so it stands to logic that we were a fun bunch then.

None of us have really changed that much over the intervening twenty-odd years. L’il Sis still puts the rest of us to shame with her outfits. Not that she puts too much effort into these things, it’s just that she has a certain aplomb that genetically I appear to have missed out on. She also appears to not mind having her picture taken, something that I have never made my peace with.

Crazy D is there, a man amongst many girls, which is still the same story today. Not that he’s a player or anything like that, but rather, having grown up with two sisters and all our girlfriends, I suppose after a while it just seems normal to hang out with a bunch of girls. I would like to think these formative years have helped him as he’s grown older. I mean, this is a guy you can have over to your house who not only puts the toilet seat down, but will also listen to stories about your period and not shudder too much, and help with the washing up. I cannot recommend these skills highly enough.

Then there’s me. Somewhat confused looking, and usually disgruntled. I suspect The Mom took L’il Sis aside at one point and told her how to make a nice picture. You know, organise her face in such a way that she didn’t look ill. I on the other hand…

Anyhow, the thing about these little annual jaunts down memory lane is that it’s a nice thing to do with The Mom. I know she misses me now that I live in the UK, and it’s important to me to spend some extra time with her. That and my memory’s terrible, so she reminds me of the things we did when we were young. I need to get this vital information out of her now, before the dementia sets in.

The highlight of this little session for The Mom was of course the birthday party she hosted for me at one of her favourite places (which was also, for a time, her place of work). It’s one of those oldey-timey villages. She made us costumes – skirts and bonnets – and off we went, to infiltrate the village as though we worked there. In retrospect I think this was probably unusual, but back then she was so confident, who were we to question it?

She squealed with delight when she saw the group shot of all of us in our costumes.

“Do you know,” I said. “This girl here, still has that costume and wears it whenever she needs to do fancy dress?”

The Mom was delighted.

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