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I turned 47 this weekend, and to mark the occasion, I posted this photo on my social media, remarking that it had been forty years since it was taken. Though I don’t really remember the moment from the inside, there are so many memories that were conjured by the photo: the excitement of being a kid; the taste of cheap chocolate frosting; Seamus, our Irish wolfhound, hoping desperately for a taste; being nervous about sitting next to a cute boy; the unbelievably loud wallpaper on the dining room wall; the hiss of the radiators throughout that old house; my dad’s old Minolta that he kept in the dining room closet and brought out for these kinds of occasions; remembering how much I loved that shirt I was wearing, the one with the hearts all over it.

Just like that – forty years come and gone, like the birthday candles I blew out with a wide-eyed, Dizzy Gillespie expression on my face.

Forty years later to the day of the snapping of that photo, I found myself sitting in a beautiful barn in western Maine, witnessing the marriage of two people I’m just getting to know. The groom is a friend of Shawn’s, and now becoming a friend of mine. The ceremony was simple, sweet, and heartfelt. I sat with Shawn and two dear friends. I ate food. I met new people. I reconnected with old friends and acquaintances. I blew bubbles. I danced to whatever the DJ spun. I played some blues on an old Acrosonic in a quiet corner by request of the groom. I drank tea and spilled some on my dress. New deposits in the memory bank. It was an awesome way to celebrate life!

I hope that forty years from now, the newly married couple will look back at their wedding photos and savor the memories conjured by them – the warmth and presence of their friends and family; the promises they made to one another; the sparkle in each other’s eyes. And I also hope they realize how quickly – and hopefully, how beautifully – the previous decades have flown by.

There are so many ways to celebrate the fact that we’re alive, and we only have so many days in which to do the celebrating. So, get out on that dance floor before the music stops!

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