My youngest daughter acquired her first boyfriend some months ago. She’s almost 17. He is one year older. He arrived in a way I felt cautious about. Having my own leftover (and undealt with) feelings of a sexual assault around that age, I felt every hair on my body stand up in alert and, in all honesty, I felt primed to attack. Not literally of course, but in myself. I’m ashamed of that but yes, I felt it. My eldest daughter had her first boyfriend around the same age, and I didn’t feel this then, but it came around in a much more organic way - they’d been friends for a long, long time beforehand.
Anyway, this boyfriend has sat on benches outside in the park, countless times, in sub-zero temperatures, for hours at a time. He would bring them a blanket. Later, it would include walking her home. Un-naturally I was annoyed he now knew where we lived. Later still, he visited the house. I was very polite, even smiley sometimes, but distanced. I was not hugely welcoming of anybody because the pandemic made me shutter-in and that’s hard to lose even when abiding by rules. He would visit in the afternoon and go home at tea-time.
Eventually, he’d stay a bit longer at weekends, eat with us, and his dad would pick him up - he doesn’t live anywhere remotely near. Before term ended, my daughter had been in a class with a positive case and had to isolate for ten days. She cried over FaceTime to the boyfriend (note to me: she’s comfortable crying in front of him), mainly with shock at the situation and with fear her test may be positive (it was negative). He not only listened but, a couple of days later, crept up to the doorstep after midnight (and enrolled a parent to assist by car) and left a gorgeous bunch of flowers, chocolates, and the most beautifully worded, handwritten, jotter paper letter I’ve ever read.
The relationship has grown in a kind, gentle, fun, beautiful way. I couldn’t have dreamt of a lovelier time for her. And even if it halts tomorrow, its good enough, it has given her a very important marker.
My head got it wrong. And my heart began to thaw. Now, months on from reliving my own traumas and attempting to exorcise some ghosts, I realise he is the very best thing that could have come into her life at this point. I am sorrowful that he will leave town to go hundreds of miles away to University in September. I am preparing for my sorrow, as well as hers.
What can be my message today after all this heart-rambling? It is that whatever we think is the case, is not always the case. That we must stay open, stay fresh in our minds and be willing to be wrong. About people, about situations, and mostly about our own historical baggage muddying the present.
Keep striving for today. No matter how you arrive into it. Let it thrive.
The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.