Old Stories

Cecilia Garcia-Velez essays

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Remember that younger you? Carefree—well maybe not carefree but having the ability to act carefree. Maybe I should start with remember your life before a mortgage and taxes and tuition and organic vs. conventional? Now that sounds more familiar. Well I barely do. I have a vague sense of myself being fun and athletic—no pesky knee injury. I laughed a lot. I drank a lot of Coke Classic. But that former self, that old story has almost been forgotten.

Then I saw Holly, my freshman year roommate whom I have not seen since she transferred after her first year—I swear I had nothing to do with it. We are both working in higher education now and unbeknownst to me, I sent her an email. She made the connection and we agreed to meet before an on-campus event. Although she was busy, she was gracious and so fun to see. She still looks like she is 19 and it really felt like 1995 all over again. We caught up on our kids, husbands, lives. And then we started reminiscing about that important first year of college. She told stories. Old stories that have not been told in almost two decades. She reminded me of how I recorded my voice onto her computer so every time she hit the space bar or maybe a random letter the computer would spout out: I WANT CHAPSTICK or other nonsense. Hilarious. As I type this I am laughing at my old self.

My old self. I don’t necessarily want to be 19 again full of angst and uncertainty. But it is those experiences that have shaped my new story. I read once that it's not just about surviving the hard times, it is about living your life after them. My new story can laugh when my children connive together to trick the summer nanny. I can think they are being creative and working together instead of focusing on their horrid behavior. My new story remembers those days when we lived paycheck to paycheck, praying no one gets sick and that the car would not break down. My new story knows that it does get better. That it is about giving of yourself and remembering to live. That nothing exists without the past.

I am so grateful to have reconnected with my old friend Holly. As wonderful as it was to see her, she reminded me that we don’t always have to act so grown up. That it is okay to remember who you were—even if your current reality won’t let you play pranks on your roommate or blow off all responsibilities. It is important to weave the old with the new.

My kids are attending a vacation bible school at our church this week. My five year old who is heading off to kindergarten in the fall told me that VBS is too hard, too long and there are too many projects. I agreed with him that it does make for a long day and art projects can be tough. Then he grabbed my face with his two chubby little hands and, as if to make me feel better, said, “But mommy, everyone is so kind. That is the most important thing in the world…to be kind.” 

I do love my new story.

About the Author

Cecilia Garcia-Velez

Cecilia Garcia-Velez lives in St. Paul with her husband Pat where they can be found on numerous sidelines coaching and cheering on their three kids or chasing their golden retriever. She works as a writer and editor and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.

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