Never Done: I had my first unsupervised visit with R
And I wrote all about it when I got home, careful to describe the evening without writing anything that would be too revealing about R, since I don't have her permission to write about this, and also because we are so very early in the bureaucratic process that I don't want to risk being public about it -- and then when I woke up in the morning I realized I shouldn't push PUBLISH POST on any of what I wrote. That as careful as I was, it was still too much. So this morning I looked over the post and blacked out words, and am about to deliver to you my first Wiki-Leaks-like document.
Some time in the week, Josh and I found that we probably could spend some time alone with R on Saturday evening. We weren't sure how much time -- an hour? Five hours? or even if it would really happen at all. So we started to brainstorm things we could do, given that we'd be off our usual beaten path, since we'd pick her up in XXXX and drop her off in XXXX. I started by looking for a good Cinco de Mayo cultural event, and while I found two events with the help of the wonderful Mexican cultural organization Mano a Mano, neither of them worked out for time or location reasons.
Then we started looking for places we could play ping pong in Manhattan. I have been excited to go to the ping pong club (Spin) that Susan Sarandon co-owns with her alleged new boyfriend, but I misread the website and thought it was all members only, and expensive at that. (It turns out that while it is a membership-based club, there are also walk-in rates for non-members, to the tune of $20/half hour, and you can't make a reservation.) But since we didn't know how long this date was going to be, we didn't know what kind of plans we could make, which the more I think about it was a good way to prepare for living with a teenager. In the end, we found out that we would have three hours total, including travel from XXXX to XXXX on a Saturday night, and so we opted to just have dinner together.
We offered her to go out somewhere in Manhattan or to go to a good Mexican restaurant I know in XXXX. Her eyes lit up, and she said, "That." I mentioned that it was Cinco de Mayo weekend, and she said that she hadn't gotten to celebrate her holiday -- and with that, we were decided. So we left, and drove north, talking all the way. She asked me what kind of Mexican food I like the best, and I answered honestly that I love taquitos de carne asada (grilled steak tacos), and enchiladas when they're made with corn tortillas, and sopas, and that sometimes I love posole. "Posole? You know posole? Wow, hearing you say that like you XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX that you know something about Mexican food that's beyond quesadillas XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX. That's crazy. How did you XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX?
It was a stunning moment. To see that my tiny bit of cultural knowledge was so meaningful to her was humbling. I don't usually think that my knowing some Spanish and having some knowledge of Mexican culture is one of the most essential parts of me, but it might turn out to be one of the most essential elements of our early relationship.
Our dinner together was wonderful. We went back and forth between gabbing about any old thing, and asking each other questions. R is still trying to figure out how it is possible that I don't like to XXXX. She's trying all sorts of angles. What do I think about XXXX? (A little overwhelming.) Do I like sunglasses? (I don't love them the way I love, say, music, but since I need them, I want them to look great.) What size am I? (Varies.) And I'm trying all angles back. What kind of outdoor activities does she like? (XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX -- none of them being outdoor activities.) But we also had good, deep conversations about girls and boys and power in relationships, and if it possible to learn a lesson when the lesson is being delivered with XXXX, and what did R think might be the hardest part about moving in to someone's home? She is a pleasure -- a talker, funny, open, warm, smart, independent.
Not that I think that because I enjoy her company this will be an easy path together, but here's the thing: she makes it easy to see what a good person she is, and how hard she is trying to make a good life for herself, and how hard she is trying to make sense of how incredibly weird her life has become (looking at it from her perspective as much as I can.) And that is probably exactly what I need to keep doing -- look from her perspective as much as I can, with all its blacked-out bits.