Well, here it is... four months after the fact, I finally figured out where I stashed this picture. I posted an entry about this little bear's second Halloween adventure this past October, but had to settle for a photo of a drag queen to accompany the text because... well, that's a long (not-that-interesting) story, so we'll just skip over all the mind-numbing details.
I hesitated before posting this picture -- so much time elapsed between the original mood inspiring the post, and the (re)discovering of this photo's location. Posting in March seemed a little silly, to be honest. But it's such an adorable little picture, how could I not share it?
When I first got my grubby little hands on this photo, it wasn't anything more than a visual marker—a snapshot of my favorite little bruin to join the stacks of other memorable-but-not-always-meaningful moments. Don't get me wrong -- seeing him take his first steps, hearing his first words and the look on his face when he realized all those balloons, and presents and cake were for him, on his first birthday are all warm, fuzzy memories I'll treasure for the rest of my life.
But if you've spent any large chunk of time around children under the age of five, then you know... well, you know. They change (and grow) so quickly, it almost seems like they're an entirely different person from week to week. Yet somehow, the changes they go through -- right before your very eyes -- seems less like a transformation, and more like a metamorphosis.
As quickly and radically as a little kid develops into a little person (person-to-be, perhaps?), there's something comforting, and soothingly natural about the way their personality takes shape. With James, it's almost as if every little, new piece of the puzzle revealed makes sense; somehow it all just adds up... while still managing to surprise.
Back when I originally intended to post this picture, it was just a marker on my life's timeline. But now, it represents so much more: I remember, with amazing clarity, trying to imagine what my life would be like when I turned 30. I mean, it wasn't like I had it all worked out--far from, it actually. On numerous occasions over the past six or seven years, I tried to imagine how the path I was on would play out, and if I could "see myself" in that job.
Or living in the same city, dating the same guy, blah, blah, blah. I never decided that one outcome was better than another, or fooled myself into thinking there was one path I had to take to be happy. I mentally / emotionally / spiritually sorted through a number of equally different, equally enjoyable scenarios... but not a single one included bedtime stories, trips to the park, booster shots, or spending an afternoon on the couch, looking at books about animals. I never imagined so much of my life would center around the joys/challenges of early childhood--that on average, I'd spend more of my week talking to a little boy in a bear suit, than at gay bar/club/party... which sometimes also involves bears, but that's a whole 'nother mess.
Now, this photo represents the unexpected, yet wonderful, twist my life has taken. It isn't how I imagined it, but I wouldn't want it any other way.