Funny how something as ordinary as a high school yearbook can change a relationship. That fateful day, a warm breeze blew as my daughter Emily walked in the front door carrying her high school yearbook. I was pleased that Emily was having a positive high school experience in the small, agricultural Missouri town where we'd moved with my husband, Steve, Emily's stepfather.
Emily and I sat at the kitchen table munching chocolate chip cookies and looking through her yearbook. Besides her senior class photo, we searched for her band, chorus, and activity photos. Reviewing the previous school year seemed like we were turning back time.
"Let's look at your yearbook, Mom," Emily said after we'd perused hers.
I found both mine and Steve's. Emily and I laughed about the '70s hairstyles, my "natural look" (no makeup and long frizzy hair parted in the middle), and the clothes (wide collars and splashy designs). I pointed out how I, like Emily, played the flute in band and sang in chorus. I showed her the boy I dated in high school, Patrick, with his blond wavy hair and Roman profile.
Steve's yearbook showed an athletic teen who lettered in sports and was much more popular than I was. He was homecoming king and involved in everything from sports to drama.
Seeing Patrick's photos made me think about my college sweetheart and first husband, Joe, Emily's dad, with his wire-frame glasses and distinguished-looking, premature gray hair. How different my life would have been had I known Steve back then. Caught up in reminiscing, I wondered if Steve and I would have hooked up in high school.
If so, we wouldn't be having the problems we were having now. Steve and I were trying to have a child of our own. At 43, it didn't look like that was going to happen. I'd lost hope. Only celebrities were having children at that age.
This new thought about our possible high school hook-up would have solved that problem. Steve and I wouldn't have lost out on the years I was married to Joe, my best childbearing years.
"I wish I would have met Steve in high school," I said aloud, still glancing down at Steve's yearbook. I smiled brightly at Emily, and buoyed by my own enthusiasm, I continued. "We could have gotten married and had kids …"
Emily's eyes grew wide. "You couldn't have married Steve after high school!" She stood abruptly, nearly in tears.
"Why not?" I asked, still mesmerized by my daydreams.
"You couldn't have married Steve after high school!" she repeated as if that should have been enough for me to understand.