This is a touching story about a baby boomer who thought the past was lost. It wasn’t. And when Laurie Whitman of La Grange Park, Illinois, had it laid out in front of her she realized, We’ve only just begun.

For the past 15 or 16 years, I have been threatening to show my husband my slides from Europe. These slides are housed in six carousels, and my summer of ’70 European experience spans France, Austria, Italy, Greece, the cliffs of Dover, London, with many villages, chateaux and beaches along the way.

Laura Whitman

Fortunately for him though and unfortunately for me, the projector does not work. We are unable to find replacement parts and even if found, would they work after 40+ years? So the entire cache has stayed hidden in the basement, each slide clearly labeled along with a handwritten index.

As is our custom, on Christmas Eve we open our presents. My husband gave me a memory stick and a disk. But I was puzzled. I had no idea what was on them. A trip itinerary maybe to the islands of Greece and we’re leaving next week? Baby photos of our grandchildren??

Laurie hitchhiking in Europe in 1970.

He brought his laptop to the living room so we all could see my present.

It was beyond my expectations. There were 60 or 70 slides of my Europe trip that he had digitized for me. We have no slide viewer, and I later discovered that he had held each of the slides from the six carousels to the light in his office with a magnifying glass to find the snaps of me or places he knew were special to me.

I was floored. And touched.

We looked at a few of the pictures. There is one of me with my back to the camera, hitchhiking in Verona, Italy. My kids remarked that I looked the same (maybe from the back anyway!) and that my hair was the same.

But I saw something different.

A 21 year old Laurie.

I saw my 21-year-old self, embarking on life. So much of life to live. I looked at this young woman, holding a purse in her right hand, sunglasses dangling between her fingers, a short cream-colored belted coat, a gold-colored mini skirt, cute shoes, her left hand extended, thumb out, iridescent white nail polish gracing her nails.

And as I looked at this photo, I thought to myself, ‘We had only just begun.’

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