Keeping The Past in the Past

First photograph of woman, 1840

Do you ever do anything that, frankly, surprises you?

Not necessarily something that brings out your heroic side or your demonic side — more like something that pops up and you react to it, then are surprised about your reaction?

I think it started with an email I received. I don’t remember the actual trigger, but I found myself going online and searching for my maiden name. I’d never done that before, or, if I had, it was so long ago I didn’t care.

So I found my maiden name, and there were a couple of us. That’s no surprise. But then there was a picture of my mother and father at my very first wedding 45 years ago. That marriage barely lasted a year, and is such old news it could be filed along with the Great Depression and the Drafting of the Constitution of the United States.

Way back then there was no Internet. No social media. No Facebook.

How did that picture wind up online?

I didn’t even recognize the couple. It had to be my parents, yet I don’t remember even having a photographer back then.

I started to freak out.

Now, some of you would continue researching photos and and other family members to see just what the Internet has on your past. After all, it is YOUR past. My late brother’s picture kept popping up, a wonderful man who died way too soon for all of us. And there was an old picture of a couple who could or could not have been my parents (it was too fuzzy to see without paying a history service).

But I froze. I suddenly didn’t want to look back that far into my past.

I felt like I was looking up someone’s skirt. The past was the past. Not terrible, not wonderful — just life. And a life so far removed from my family of today that I felt no real connection to it. When I lost my brother I lost the last of my family. I was alright with that.

Why did seeing my maiden name online freak me out so much?

I realized that I don’t look that far back at my past at all. I try not to think about old friends, old family get togethers, old jobs. I don’t have haunting memories or terrible experiences to expunge; I don’t really have any regrets about the choices I made. And  past boyfriends don’t really matter, as I’ve been happily married for 38 years. I loved my parents and still dream of them now and then. So there’s no psychological mumbo jumbo to work through.

I know my present is much more across the board on the Internet these days. Writing a blog, using online services, and having friends who also carouse the Internet, makes keeping your current name and place public knowledge. We all have more info online than we want to admit.

But information from 45 years ago? That’s nobody’s business. I don’t really feel it’s any of my business, either. Not after all these years. How strange.

This adverse reaction surprised me at the time, but really, it shouldn’t. I’ve swept off the road behind me for some time now, concentrating on where I am today and where I am going tomorrow. My little brain cannot possibly multi task like that without short circuiting somewhere down the line. 

And I have enough short circuiting going on as it is……



7 thoughts on “Keeping The Past in the Past

  1. You can only look at the past for so long, though. You can’t change it, only learn from it. And where you are going is so much more important and harder than where you have been. Agree. Cause and Effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My friend saw something online recently about her ex from when they were together(they’ve been divorced like 25 years) and it sent her spiraling down the rabbit hole…who knows why we react the way we do


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