Sunday, October 2, 2011

Don't Ask Don't Tell

Having a teenager in my life is a harrowing experience. I find my self wondering “How did our parents survive us?” I find it difficult to wrap my brain around what it must have been like to not have cell phones and pagers and social media to keep in touch with and keep an eye on children as they become young adults. I suppose as the universe expands so does global communication and it can all be viewed as part of our evolution or increasing consciousness. I for one am grateful for being able to text or call my fifteen year old daughter any time I get the urge, including times when it might feel intrusive or embarrassing to her. I am grateful for google maps and GPS devices so I can locate either of my kids whenever I choose to show up and interfere in their lives.

My relationship with my parents was quite different. Our parents were unable to check up on us as we roamed wildly, freely, dangerously and at times disastrously through our teenage years. The year I was sixteen I totalled one car and wrecked another car twice. It’s amazing that so many of us survived. Of course some didn’t and they are still missed. Car accidents and boating accidents and drug and alcohol related incidents and even suicide were realities that peppered my youth. Whenever I feel resentful or upset about growing old, I remember how lucky I am to be able to experience what we have right here and right now.

All of this rambling is an introduction to a story of one of the many great loves of my life. The whole premise of my blog is that while I have no single “soul mate” I honestly believe that I have had many relationships that were meaningful and dear and I will hold the passion and joy of each of my friends and lovers for whatever piece of eternity I experience.

David Baxter showed up at Jupiter High School at a time when my friends and I were moving rapidly through puberty and were ready to experience all that this part of our development had to offer. He was beautiful. Even those of us who had boyfriends couldn’t keep our eyes off of him. I am certain that I was not the only girl who was mesmerized by how the sunlight reflected off of his blond curly hair through the windows of Miss McAtee’s classroom. He was tall and tan and lean with classic surfer good looks and just looking at him from across the room you could smell the ocean and hear sea gulls. I doubt sincerely that he was as instantly attracted to me as I was to him, but before long I am sure I captured a special place in his heart as well. 

One adventure early in our relationship was amusing in hindsight. I was planning on going camping with my friend Paula and somehow ended up spending the night on the beach in a sleeping bag with David. There was nothing especially unusual about this. However, the next morning something rather unexpected happened. As the sun rose on the beach the sleeping bag became almost unbearably hot and I awoke happy to see that we were on the beach at poles and could cool off with a swim. I noticed a woman walking down the beach and as she came into focus I realized it was my mother. I was shocked and worried about how she would react. I had no explanation and felt trapped into sharing more than I wanted to with my mother. I nudged Dave and told him to put his jeans on. We wiggled into our clothes just as she walked up she said a big friendly “Hello” and offered us a ride home. Poor David must have been uncomfortable as hell, but I was pretty sure my mom would spare us our dignity. The way she handled it from this point was mind boggling.

We got in the car and she drove to Dave’s house and dropped him off cheerfully. I just sat in the passenger seat and waited for her to speak to me privately. I had no plan and just felt certain that if she spoke first I would figure out what to say and/or deny. When we got to the top of the bridge she said the most amazing thing. “Patti, I can’t tell you how relieved I was to see David with you this morning. When you girls camp out I sometimes worry, but knowing David was with you makes me feel like you had someone there to protect you”. I couldn’t even answer and there was no need to. She continued, “But if I were you, I wouldn’t mention it to your father. He might not understand.”

Truthfully neither did I, but I took the pass. Thanks to my mother’s involvement without interference my relationship with David evolved seamlessly. It was sweet and fun and felt completely natural. Eventually it ended and we remained friends. It was and is perfect.