See that picture of me there? Well! In the interest of full disclosure, I don't look like that anymore.
I haven't for a long time.
For one thing, I look older. That's what staying ALIVE does to you, folks. It makes you look older. Unless your name is "Vanna" and also "White."
For another thing, I'm not a blond now, even though certain people in my family wish I was.
They drop subtle hints to that effect such as, "Why don't you dye your hair blond again? You look WAAAAAAAAY better with blond hair."
I'm not sure why I dyed it a different color except that one day at the Fashion Place mall I looked around and realized every middle-age woman in sight had the exact same blond hair as I did.
And it kind of scared me.
I felt like I was in Helsinki again, dodging streetcars and rogue polar bears.
KIDDING! DON'T WRITE ME LETTERS! There are no rogue polar bears in Finland. There are no non-rogue polar bears in Finland either.
There are, however, many blonds.
Here's the deal about Finland. It's a lovely country filled with lovely people and also a lot of trees.
But living there was tough for me. I was pregnant, cold, homesick and (because we were living on salami and French bread), hungry.
And you all know how grumpy I get when I'm hungry.
I turn into a grouchy non-living-in-Finland polar bear.
The biggest change in my appearance, however, is that I wear glasses instead of contacts these days, just like I did in the fourth grade, only no one calls me "Four Eyes" now, mostly because I don't sit in the desk next to Teddy K. anymore.
It's the glasses part I want to talk about.
I didn't bother to clean them very often in the fourth grade because who has the time?
You're all busy figuring out long division and learning about Etienne Provost and playing kissing tag in the fourth grade — especially now that you can actually SEE the boys because your mom bought you glasses.
Spotted, smudged glasses, however, were unacceptable to my grandmother who always took them off my nose and cleaned them until they sparkled.
"There," she'd say, handing them back to me.
"That's better now."
And she was right.
I think of my grandmother often these days. How did she manage to get my glasses so clean?
Did she use water?
Soap and water?
Water and vinegar?
Did she polish them dry with a handkerchief?
A dish towel?
A cotton diaper?
And how did she know that nearly 20 years after her death, I still remember the way she cleaned my glasses when I was a little girl, and how fresh the world looked to me when I viewed it through my shiny lenses.
Life is full of big moments.
Funny, though, how it's always the tiny things I gather, like bits of shell, and keep safe in my box full of memories.