Same face, different life – The passport photo

Well, the face is almost the same on the updated CVS photo that is going to be on my U.S. passport for the next 10 years.  My hair is lighter and the wrinkles are more obvious but there is some resemblance.  You are not allowed to smile and your hair must be pulled behind your ears.  I guess you’re supposed to look like you just survived a 14 hour international flight and you sat next to a crying baby the whole way- that’s what I look like in this photo.

I am planning to visit Japan this summer to see my son in Tokyo where he is studying abroad this semester.  My passport expires in August so it needs to be renewed thus the trip to CVS to get the photos.

I do not like the picture.  I look better when I am smiling. I don’t know why smiling is against the rules.

The whole photo shoot reminded me of when I went with my family to get passport photos 10 years ago.

We all drove to the local post office.  I removed all jewelry and was told not to smile. I was wearing a black turtle neck in the photo and I realized that I haven’t worn turtle neck sweaters in years.  I guess it has something to do with hot flashes.

Mike and the boys each had their photos taken that day too.  We had planned a family vacation to Jamaica and it was the first time the boys were going to be out of the country.  Mike and I needed to renew our passports so we all went together.

It made me realize that I don’t remember what I was doing 10 years ago when we took those pictures.  I can figure out our ages.  Was it a Saturday? Did the boys have sports in the morning? I’m sure I drove them somewhere that day but it is all a blur now.  Maybe I went to Pilates that morning.  Did I take my Border Collie Lucky on her 2 mile walk and throw tennis balls to her on the beach? Did I make dinner for everyone that night? We used to eat a lot of pasta. Did Mike and I have a date night?

And, what will I be doing when this passport expires, God willing I am still here and healthy – I only know too well how quickly life as we know it can end.  Living life to the fullest is one of many lessons I have embraced following the loss of my husband.  Living in the moment and finding joy are daily goals.

So what did my life look like today? Tuesday, May 8, 2018…

Woke up at 7:25 and stayed in bed looking at my phone.  I check Facebook, a few blogs and emails and Instagram until my little 11 pound friend Harry starts to knock my fingers off my phone and persistently angles his body between my face and my phone. I generally lose the battle, get up and open the sliding glass door where he ventures to the nearest patio chair to lift a leg and greet the day with a morning sprinkle.

This morning I started the coffee pot, fed Harry breakfast and then sat on the stationary bike for a full 15 minutes, actually pedaling.  I poured myself a cup of coffee, bribed the puppy with a treat so I could put on his leash and walked up the street and then to the beach.  Today we walked on the sand a bit.  The water was calm and the sun was shining.  The warm weather is welcome after such a long cold winter.

Took a shower in my “needs to be updated” bathroom followed by trying on pants, that still don’t fit, then quickly put on my Thailand pants – colorful bell bottoms with elastic waist, navy tank top and flip flops.  With fifteen minutes until I had to leave, I microwaved oatmeal and  frozen blueberries, made a TO GO cup of coffee (which I never am able to drink in the classroom) then addressed a Mother’s Day card for my mom and sent in a deposit for the boat’s mooring.

My commute to work is pretty quick.  1 mile, about 2 minutes.

At work, I sign in, refill my water bottle in the teacher’s lounge, check the copy room then log on to my computer to read my emails in the classroom.  Along come the kiddos and my last chance for a gulp of coffee before the day begins.

Twenty little people join me as we read stories, write sentences with spaces between the words, practice math facts, build towers and castles, run around on the playground, sing Happy Birthday to a friend, eat store bought cupcakes (a new school rule), go to lunch, listen to relaxation music and color, listen to stories in the library with our librarian and play a game, read with a friend, practice handwriting then go to the gym for physical education, line up once again and walk to the school buses at dismissal.  We pack in a lot during those 6 hours.

After school I rushed home to let out the dog and put on my yoga clothes.  I went to acupuncture for my relaxation therapy and a short nap.  Next I met my boyfriend at a yoga class then I treated us to BOGO at Chipotle for Teacher appreciation day.

Another busy day and on my way home I stopped for that charming photo shoot at CVS.  Hopefully the only person to look at that picture will be me and the customs agent.

There will be no photos on this post.

I know there will be changes in life.  Ten years ago I never thought I would be a widow and that I would be living alone in this house.  Living in the moment and not dwelling on the past or the future has helped me get through the past 2 years, but I am starting to wonder when do I plan for my future.  Do I plan or let it happen? Do I fix up my house or sell it? Do I stay in New York or retire early and move somewhere else now? Am I supposed to make all these next decisions alone or just wait and see?

What will that passport photo look like in 10 years and will I remember this moment in time? The only constant in life is change. I wonder what life will be like in 10 years? It was pretty good today.

The mantra that helped me get through my worst period of grief still holds true now, I just need to repeat it: I trust I am being led to where I need to be – everything happens to me at the right time and place.

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17 Responses

  1. I remember when twice recently (last year) I was getting a passport photo (not for a passport) and the person said “you must move your body slightly as you’ve not straight up in the photo viewer” – both shots I’m leaning sideways – I looked drunk!!! One is on my gold-card thing – but to date no one much has looked at it – as it smaller than an average postage stamp!!!

  2. You are a true writer. I bet that’s because you are a teacher like me. 😉 I recognize your busy filled days in the classroom. And I love your mantra…words to live by and yes, we must repeat to be reminded.

  3. Beautiful thoughts. My mom was widowed in her late 40s/early 50s and it has been an interesting road. I love that you still travel and adventure!

  4. I love your positive attitude, despite the suffering you have had to go through! I am glad that you are finding purpose in the pain of your loss. I hate when I am told not to smile, so I can relate with wanting to smile even though I may not be allowed to in passport photos.

  5. Isn’t it crazy how something so mundane can make you stop and reminisce and then contemplate the future.

  6. When I went to get my new passport picture all I could think of was the memories I made through all my past travels and the dreams of all the new travels with my new passport. You’ve expressed everything beautifully.

  7. What a beautifully written blog post! You are such a strong person!! I am so glad that you found your purpose in life!! It is so hard not to smile when you are going to take a photo! I love smiling and it kills me when I can’t. Keep being strong!! You got this!!

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Runaway Widow
Join me, Kristin, on my journey to adjust to the sudden death of my husband and learn to live as a young, middle-aged, remarried widow.

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