I have been your cheerleader, your confident, your girlfriend and your lover. The one thing I cannot, I will not do, is to just be your friend.
I have been watching old movies this week, while Mr. Spit is out of town. Monday night was National Velvet, last night was bed-knobs and broomsticks. Like many girls, I was for a time, horse mad. I watched Bed-knobs and Broomsticks to death. I watched it compulsively, in love with travelling beds and mean black cats. I twisted the knob off the bed, incurring my mother’s wrath. (The bed was almost 200 years old, in hindsight the wrath might have been justifiable.)
It has been a pleasure amidst a sea of change to retreat to my childhood. It has been a pleasure to think about when life was simpler, when imagination was simply enough. I have smiled, as much at the movies as my memories of myself. I find as time goes by, I am more indulgent of my oddities as a child. I was, truthfully a very strange child, interested in things other children weren’t, almost utterly unable to communicate with my peers.
This continued well into University. And in telling you that, it seems strange to tell you that I found a boyfriend in high school. It is perhaps all the more remarkable, when I tell you I accomplished this feat while attending a Christian Girls Boarding School. But, I truly did.
His name was Bryan, and he was and is a nice guy. He came with not his own set of oddities, but at least a bit of baggage; at the age of 17 he was a father. He came from a good home, it wasn’t as if I started dating a hoodlum (I’d already dated the hoodlum’s). Even in the 90’s it was strange enough to find a teenage father.
Teenage romances are probably confusing enough, without a child. But we called her Mika and with the recklessness of a 17 year old woman, I fell in love with her. She spent a fair bit of time with me. Her mother had been my friend, and it was difficult to be the mother of a child at 15, and the mother of more children by 18. Her mother was, if I am honest, unstable at best.
My mother was quite firm with me. She had her children, and she wasn’t interested in raising someone else’s. Somehow, I seemed to be. In the middle of my first year at University, she stayed with me at times. I loved those children, Mika most of all. I loved her as a baby, I loved her as a toddler. I loved her at 3 am heating up a bottle, I loved her changing diapers and bathing her. I simply loved her.
If I had it to do over, I would have done it differently. I would have only loved her. I would have just been her friend, and I would have removed the burdens from myself to be a step parent. Thirty something me is astonished at my temerity. Thirty something me wonders why I had to have all of those rules for myself and how things should go. Why I couldn’t simply appreciate a beautiful thing for a beautiful thing.
Those words at the top were my words too, when I broke up with her father. I broke up with him, and God forgive me, I walked away from Mika. I could tell you so many things, and in my kinder moments, I’m still not sure it wasn’t the best thing. I couldn’t simply be his friend, any more than I had the wisdom and maturity to be just her friend. I walked away from them all.
Nothing hurt that badly until I held Gabriel in my arms. Until Gabriel it was the great pain of my life. In Gabriel, I found remembrances of Mika.
I found Bryan on Facebook a few years ago, and we have maintained a desultory contact through status updates. He lives in the Middle East and he was complaining yesterday about rain, and I replied with a witty comment about my 3 foot snowdrifts. It was nothing more than what we have done for three years now. The sort of casual contact that I would have never expected, and find myself quite content with. Time removes so many hassles and heartaches.
And then an email on Facebook yesterday. From Mika’s mum, with a friend request. And suddenly time wasn’t so far away from me.
Laugh all you want, but I phoned my mum. I would have phoned Mr. Spit, but all of this predates him. I can write eloquently of what is gone, but I cannot write eloquently of what is. I do not know what to do with this friend request.
A plunge back into a part of my life that is over. I will never be more than a distant memory to Mika. I will, if heaven smiles, be someone in a photo that looks a slight bit familiar. At my death, I will be a random stranger who has left her money. When I talk of my nieces and nephews, she is the chiefest, never named, but always remembered.
But, I do not know that there is any merit, any health in going back. I am not that person, and she is not that little girl. I have in the last few years confronted so much of who I was. I have confronted things done and left undone. But not this. Not the first child I left. Not this woman who carelessly brought seven children into the world, and not the one child I heedlessly left.