how we grow up

Sufyan and I were taking our usual morning walk past the high school in our neighborhood. It was a perfect 70 degree, breezy morning and he was getting sleepy in the carrier on my back. As we started towards home, an old Buick Skylark was pulling in to the student parking lot with the windows open, and from the windows was a familiar smell: hairspray. Not just any hairspray, but White Rain brand.

It fairly billowed over us in a cloud. And it was funny, because it took me WAY back (as smells can do. I have always had a very keen sense of smell). And I started to think about how fast it all happens, how we grow up, how we go through so much that our parents can’t know and all our memories become ours and part of us. Like hairspray, the smell of which brought memories of being about 13 or so. And I immediately also recalled the smell of Teen Spirit perfume. I remember the electric pink of the liquid and the pink coil of plastic visible in the bottle for that “electric youth” effect…

And the feeling of being so conscious of my “looks” that it was painful.
And of course, I wondered how the hell we go from precious cute little babies to awkward pre-teens, to teens, to young adults, to…us. Each of us has the little baby we once were deep inside…but we do not resemble them. Where does that go? And, being the expert at nostalgia that I don’t mind admitting I am, I decided to go back an take a peek at me growing up.
Here goes.

That’s the case to some piece of camera equipment. Probably to keep me occupied. My dad was a pro photog at this point in our lives.

Sufyan is starting to want to stand up like this in the tub. I see I have teeth here, but he is still just gums.


That, my friends, is a very young parent. That’s my dad.


My brother and I at Christmas proudly showing off how well we will share this game…hahahaha. I am probably 6 or 7?


I really wanted a horse for the longest time. I had a book of breeds and markings which I memorized much of. I can still tell you the name of horse colors and markings. Here I am with my stable of Breyer horses. I loved them. I think they are still to be found in my parent’s attic. Elise can have them.


Um. Oh god. Remember that awkward phase I mentioned? Doesn’t that monkey look like he is embarrassed to be with me?


More awkwardness, but of a less innocent kind. This is more the permed, teenage vanity kind of awkwardness.


17 years old. Graduating high school. I think by now I would be using Aussie hairspray…I want to tell this girl what lies ahead but then, I might not have ended up where I am.


My room as a teenager. Notice the requisite manikin arm?



Documentation of my Rocky Horror Picture Show phase. A pretty big phase in a way. I the photo of me with my friend Emily was the night we got “hired” to be resident Janet and resident Columbia at a theater in GR.


First real job. I still recall the smell of grease and beans so well. Oh, and red sauce. Ugh. Well, first jobs are usually not the most glamorous. I learned a lot about people here. But I cannot recommend fast food. Nope.


Favorite job.

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10 thoughts on “how we grow up

  1. Oh Breyer horses and Aussie hairspray how I loved you both!! AS I took a long walk along the river on this perfect early autumn day, I was thinking about how truly happy I am at this point in my life. It’s great to have moments of appreciation for the present.

  2. Oh goodness, that was the BEST blog ever! You really take the time girl to make it awesome! Sufyan is so lucky (for numerous reasons above and beyond the blog).Elec-tric Youth! See the power, feel the energy…come in up…!Oh Debrah Gibson, you classy lady, you!

  3. This is so great! You’re so cool to put those awkward-years photos out there- what memories! And that first picture of you as a baby- I TOTALLY see resmeblence to Sufyan in that one.

  4. Wow! This puts everything into perspective for me. I too did the permed hair, hairspray and curling iron thing, so I need to remember all of that when Riane gets up at 5:30 AM to STRAIGHTEN her naturally curly hair into the epitome of “style” (what is up with the long bangs hanging over the eye?) that is popular in her school!

  5. This was really awesome. I love that you put a mini picture story of your life together! Early life, that is. I don’t think I could be as short and sweet. I’d have to publish a novel. I worked in a “taco bar.” I hate cilantro to this day because I smelled it so strongly in the freezer room I had to go into to refull the salsa in the salsa bar. yuck! I hated it so much. You were so cute. And in your teen years, we would’ve been friends. ha ha. You should see my pics.

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