There are parents who threaten to embarrass their children when they bring home their first serious girlfriend to meet the family, and then there are those who actually do it. Guess which one describes the Carpenter and I?

It started as a joke to tease our son about a moment in his past that is so embarrassing I cannot even disclose it here. Suffice to say, I had photographic evidence. My son, 15 years old and confident I would never follow through, dared me to find this photo. I accepted the challenge. I dug into the closet of chaos and found a treasure trove of old photographs.

I never did find the photo in question, though I found a good deal of embarrassing baby photos of my son that did the trick. What I did find was a collection of memories; a glossy history of two skinny young people who fell in love and will, next Tuesday, mark 18 years of marriage.

Turns out karma is a series of photographs of the Carpenter and I in our early 20s (and every decade since). Guess who had the last laugh? The teenager. There were photos of the Carpenter with his funny little mustache, the only thing that made him look age of majority. He weighed a whole five pounds less than he does now (because life isn’t fair). I looked the way I believe nature intended for me to look forever (you know what they say about best intentions). Alas, I was an arrow-straight version of myself with my actual hair colour and firmness I never fully appreciated. We were a good looking pair and absolutely unaware of it. It didn’t matter. We were best friends and crazy about each other. We were having the time of our lives, without the awareness that it was the time of our lives.

Photos captured weekend camping trips and road trip adventures, rock concerts, amusement parks, hockey games, backyard parties and the multitude of weddings we attended and never saw the couples again. College trips to Mexico and Florida. Christmas mornings. New Year’s Eve. Halloween bashes and fashion clashes; evidence to keep our kids in hysterics.

We found photos of our first home: 800 square feet of debt we were sure was going to sink us. Soon the story included a chubby little girl with her daddy’s big brown eyes, a force of nature from the get-go. And soon she shared the lens with a fair-haired, bright-eyed baby boy with a quiet nature and an infectious smile.

There were many fun events with the grandparents, a reminder of how lucky the Carpenter and I are to have my parents in our lives. There were family and friends in the mix too, including a few cherished characters who are no longer here to see that the Carpenter finally gained those five pounds – or that I still look 20 (ask anyone).

My favourite photo was in there: the Carpenter, just home from work, covered in dirt from his ball cap to his work boots, and just about the sexiest thing on earth. In each arm, he is holding one of our kids, two tiny toddlers, and they are all laughing. My everything in one photo.

Eighteen years. A flash of time. The evolution of a friendship, a family, a story. I’m grateful for every moment, but I’m going to picture what’s ahead, because I believe this is only the beginning.



Kelly Waterhouse