“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive. It’s pretty dense kids who haven’t figured that out by the time they’re ten…. Most kids can’t afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
Before I go on, I’m still not going to post any pics for the foreseeable future. Outside of their first names, I want the kids to still have a measure of privacy. I am writing this with their full knowledge and permission, but I am now trying to be a little more restrained due to circumstances.
Well, it’s happened. I’ve met my “kids”, and in all honesty, I still don’t know what to think. The first meeting I had in mind kinda went awry, as WestJet inexplicably flew well over 90+ minutes late. Add processing and the rest, and my late but still ok 9-something pm landing suddenly became one that happened a little before midnight. Needless to say, by the time I I got out of the gates, the kids were absolutely exhausted. Given that Terry had to get back for lunch and dinner service in Whistler the next day, the meeting I wanted to have with them both together pretty much was blown out of the water. Georgia just went home, and we would find a time to later meet.
Terry stayed over in Vancouver that night, and met me for a pretty early 6:30am breakfast in a Chinese café-bakery. (By the way, highly recommend New Town Bakery on E Hastings, it was simple, inexpensive, hot and simply rocked.) In the brief hour or so that we talked, he was simply a joy. Obviously a child of the 00’s, his Star Wars was Anakin Skywalker and the Clone Wars. Linkin Park was his Sting and the Police and he never even heard of The Doctors 1 thru 8. He’s bright, analytical and determined to be a chef no matter what. He’ll make it, I have no doubt. But he’s also a little awkward socially. His focus on his craft has made him appear to be a little cold, even aloof to an extent. Still, once you do get to know him, you can’t help but respect him.
On Saturday, I had went out to meet an old friend I had never met face to face in 15 years. It was fun, exciting and a grand old trot down memory lane. But as all good things, it had to end a little early as I had promised a friend to pick up some Dragon’s Beard Candy from the Richmond Night Market. On my way there, I noticed a text from Georgia, who was already there and we agreed to meet.
Remember, until this weekend, all of my communications with the kids have been entirely on the phone or via the net. Everyone has a persona they assume online, whether it be one that’s daring, brave, meek or silent. But in person… ah, there’s the rub. The cute little 8 yr old girl I remember is a very different 18 year old girl, and one that I bet her mom would have tore her hair out over.
It’s not that Georgia is a bad girl, or some wild child who drives parents to drink. It’s that she’s so very much her mother’s daughter. I see so much of my old love in her, and so many of the special qualities that made me so charmed and enamoured even now over 3 decades.
Georgia is smart and clever, quick witted and open. She is a caring, loving blossoming woman who you can’t help but fall in love with from the start. She keeps the same insane schedule that her mom did at this age, with most of her days already prescheduled weeks to months in advance. It’s that drive that made her mom such a star to UBC, and when properly focused, will make Georgia a contender in the days to come. The problem is that just like her mom, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and is incredibly pig headed. Terry told me that once she’s made a decision, it takes a small miracle to make her reconsider. Like me, she has a flair for the dramatic, and makes life changing decisions at a whim as she will follow her heart. And more importantly, she has a sense of justice based on her own beliefs and is quite willing to defends those decisions to the death.
Unfortunately, this has led her to three decisions that I wonder how much came from me (somehow) and how much came from my old love.
– After reading “The Days” and finding out so many things about her bio dad, and my deep unusual relationship with her mom, she’s stopped talking to him now altogether. She assures me that she came to this decision herself, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve traumatized her with the truth. Problem is that, what choice did I really have as well? I wasn’t about to lie to protect the false reasons why I was abandoned the kids after the death of their mom, or my complicated feelings for her even after all of these years. Nevertheless, it’s been months since she has had more than a 3 word conversation with her dad, and I feel so horribly personally responsible for this.
– She’s about to get married in a few months, about the same age when my old love and I had once considered the future together. Worse, it looks like her taste in men is about the same. Her fiance was working at the Richmond Night Market (hense the timing), and he’s CHINESE.
– She’s asked ME to be the one to give her away. She sees it as things going full circle, and that I was supposed to be her dad. I am honored that she asked me, but it feels quite honestly wrong in a lot of ways. I don’t deserve this pedestal. I was with her mom in a quasi lost love relationship for over 7 years. Her real dad raised her for most of her 18 years. He has cared for her, loved her, and sacrificed so much for her that I can never ever repay. This is his spot, and his honour not mine.
Now let’s get back to where this mess is about to lead. I’m not going to comment much on her fiance for now, since I really don’t know the guy at all. All I know is that he’s from Shanghai, studied in western schools and is 24 years old. I have no idea if he’s getting his citizenship, or if he’s even a landed immigrant. He speaks english with a bit of an british / chinese accent, and apparently works at that market on the weekends. He seems to genuinely care for Georgia, but I can’t get over the fact that they started seeing one another only months ago…. and now marriage???
I haven’t had time to really think this all through, but this feels so wrong. I’m trying to respect her decision, but now I think I have to be her father to try to talk sense as she’s presently lacking one right now. She won’t talk to me at all abotu how her dad is, and what are his thoughts. I’m actually a bit surprised that he even let Georgia move out at this age for that matter, assuming he even had a choice.
I’ve gotten advice from a few friends here and there, but I still have to think for now. I can tell already that my wife is going to have some problems with Georgia, which is another consideration I’m will have to factor in. So many lives, so intertwined in the decisions I soon will have to make, and all from a single desperate moment based on an ill-conceived haphazard plan. Wow. If there is some sort of afterlife, I can just imagine my old love just looking on in total puzzlement and disappointment.
But there is one thing for certain… I promised someone special and dear to me that I would always be there to strive to be their father, mentor and friend. I promised her that I would always be there to try to guide them on a path that would find them their own happiness, and to avoid the mistakes that my old love and I made that will always haunt me.
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” – Margo Channing, All About Eve