But then pictures from Prom 2012 started trickling in, not only usurping the power of the mantle, but causing me to stop and really look at those familiar faces more carefully, because holy shit, some of those photos are old even if they feel like they were taken just last year.
The first stark comparison, the easy one, was from a five-year-old prom photo, also chaperoning while Kyle student taught, taken five years after our own (separate) senior proms ...
And there it was, a moment when I realized we looked so young, so free and really, honestly, these five years while not kind have made us into adults, grown-ups who take responsibility more seriously and more over parents which means really all of our priorities are completely different.
For the first time, I see the photo evidence of that, however terrible the quality of the actual pictures.
However, not bad for a before and after of birthing two children, right?
But then, then something kind of short of a miracle happened.
I remember the moment, when mid-conversation with each other, probably about the ridiculous scraps of fabric that pass as prom attire these days, where a teacher-friend of Kyle's called us by our last names, and we briefly and candidly posed, relaxed and comfortable with the moment and each other and this silly ritual of making a night out of other teenagers' rites of passage.
I never expected to see the photo, yet his friend had a copy printed and gave it to him, for us.
When he brought it home, I tucked it up on the mantle, in front of the newer-prom photo which replaced the older-prom photo in a specific frame and walked away, letting my mind wander to the other million thoughts that always wait in the wings of my mind for the spotlight of attention to shine on them.
But later, later the photo caught my eye from across the room and I could not ignore the kismet.
There it was -- the very first photo of us, shortly after Kyle called me his girlfriend for the first time. Seven years have passed since that moment, that Black Friday where I broke every personal rule I'd ever had to spend this time with him, for his birthday. He hadn't even kissed me yet, but oh, I knew this boy was special.
And there it was, the most recent photo of us, near identical, after everything we've been through the better part of our twenties later, almost the same expression (well, maybe Kyle is a little tipsy in the old photo, and SERIOUSLY, DO YOU SEE THAT HAIR ON ME THAT'S A PONYTAIL FOR THE LOVE) but more importantly almost the same sentiment, as if we were still those two kids standing on the very precipice of our impending lives together and that all the things we had no way of knowing or seeing laid out ahead of us were just a fever dream, a silly fabrication of a worst case scenario gone out of control.
Of course, I know better.
But that girl with the lipstick in the photo? If she knows, she sure as hell doesn't show it.
We were such babies, then. Apparently, we haven't completely lost that.