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June 28, 2009

Giving Up Isn't Always a Bad Thing

-1 Yesterday, I went into San Francisco to have lunch with my 22-year-old daughter and the person for whom she has fallen head-over-heels. This person is a responsible individual who happens to be a neurologist. Who happens to live in Brazil. Who happens to be quite a bit older than my daughter.

And who happens to be a woman.

When my girl, glowing with elation, told me she had met someone, I could see she was smitten. Then, when she told me her love interest was a woman, I blinked rapidly and then calmly replied, "Oh...so... I mean... would that be...uh, are you... that is to say... uh... gay?" 

This was met with a roll of the eyes and a bemused response, "No, Mom. It's not about being gay or straight or bi. We're in love, and it doesn't matter what gender we are - we've found each other and it's wonderful!"

"So, er, did you, like, before, did you ever...?

"No, Mom," she murmured with the slightly condescending tone you'd use to explain something to a second grader who was a bit slow. "I've never been with a woman before. This is my first time." 

She went on to patiently repeat that just because her paramour is a woman, that doesn't make her gay. Or even bi.

The result, for me, is confusion. I know it is de rigeur for this generation to experiment in the same-sex sandbox. Big whoop, basically. But watching the two of them yesterday, it was clear as a pane of glass that they were madly in love with each other. I could see why my daughter felt the way she did for, let's call her "Daniella": she is a strikingly beautiful Brazilian woman with an irresistible accent, a keen intellect and sharp sense of humor. She is also a grown-up - something my daughter hasn't before encountered in a relationship. But Daniella has been gay all her life, apparently. My daughter, on the other hand, has always gone for boys. And the bad ones, at that. Doesn't her new relationship kind of re-arrange her, er, qualifications? And how does her girlfriend feel about the fact that my daughter claims to not be gay? My brain is befuddled.

As I sat across from them in the pricey restaurant the Brazilian Neurologist had suggested for lunch, they exchanged meaningful looks, and all I could think was: "How much will it cost for me to fly to Brazil several times a year?" And that thought was followed by a stream of others, such as, "Portuguese is such a hard language to learn - all those "shhhh"s!"

When the bill came, I didn't even reach for it to indicate my desire to pay. I am poor as Job's turkey these days, and in no position to pay for an expensive lunch at an expensive restaurant. Having always treated my girl and her friends whenever we ate out, it was one more in a series of humbling moments. But the sweet sadness I felt as we all walked up the steep hill of Castro Street, was made sweeter and sadder by the sight of the two of them, holding hands, together only for a short time and facing the pain of a long-distance love.

This lifetime of mine has never been something about which I sit back smugly and think "I've got it all figured out." It constantly throws things in my path - and I mean things like grand pianos and Hummer SUVs. For about 50 years, each time I'm thrown another curveball, I get all "Oh, my God, what the fucking fuck??"  But yesterday, as I drove back to Oakland, knowing I will soon have to drive across country to return to a place I insisted, at the age of 17, was a fate worse than death, I just shrugged. I wanted to stay here in the Bay Area, but God has shut all the doors to that possiblity. And more and more, my prayers have abandoned the tone of "What are you DOING to me, God??"  to be replaced by, "Okay. Whatever, God."

If I know anything, and most likely I don't, this life has been all about humility and surrender. And one more time, I'm running the white flag up the pole.

Lucia Davies also throws up her hands and cries "Uncle" regularly at The New 30.