RG Daughter is in town for a few days, and as always when she visits, I wonder how she views my current state of life.
Her first visit to Fort Lauderdale was with RG Son several months after I had moved there. I was living in my ghetto apartment furnished with only the bare necessities, which had seemed fine for me, until both kids visited. And then it seemed as they must have seen it–so much less than a home, and so, so inadequate. I was miserable; they knew it. When I finally stopped trying to hide my misery, they wrapped their arms around me and willed their love to buoy me.
In the year and a half that I lived in Fort Lauderdale, RG Daughter visited four times. She met my disingenuous girlfriends and despised them, because she knew before I would admit it, that they were no good for me. That they were hardly real friends. She met the men I dated and despised them, too. She knew before I was ready to admit it, that they were all wrong for me, too, hardly worthy of a relationship with the strong mom who’d raised her, because she saw the wreck her mom had become in the wake of the turmoil these men had wrought. For a while she liked my Day-at-a-Time boy, but she quickly grew tired and weary of the drama that swirled between us. She knew, as always before I did, that he was all wrong for me, too.
During her last visit to Fort Lauderdale, RG Daughter wondered how it was that my luxury apartment felt no more like a home than the ghetto place had. The new sofa and shelves and all the extras that came with a view to die for still didn’t make up for the empty life she watched me living.
She didn’t judge me during those visits; she didn’t have to. Through her eyes, I saw the me I had become–the dumb girl who partied like a spring-breaker, only to crash in heartbreak and disappointment as the men and girlfriends I’d thought were important enough to be in my life, were slowly destroying it. Through it all, RG Daughter told me she loved me, supported me, even as she worried. Even as she hoped for it all to just go away.
“I don’t know why you would ever leave here,” she said immediately when she stood in my open and airy Keys living room. “It is such a great home.”
While she has been here these past few days, she and a friend have snorkeled twice, gone on an afternoon eco-tour, kayaked through mangrove mazes and gotten a little too close to an alligator. She has eaten breakfast at my dive restaurant, lazed afternoons away on my peaceful beach, and run along roads that afford breathtaking views of the bay and ocean.
She has seen my neighborhood after-work spot, had drinks with my co-workers, eaten great food in an even more local dive than the one in which I work, and watched sunset at two popular spots amongst the hordes of tourists. Through her eyes, she has seen what I see every day–a place that fits and that is right. For now.
RG Daughter has recently let go of a past heartbreak that was preventing her from seeing the good in someone who sees the good in her. “It’s hard,” she counsels me, “And it seemed to take forever. But you will get there, too.”
Through her eyes, she knows how raw I still feel inside, how many walls and locks and moats I put between me and what might be next. Through her eyes, she knows all about wariness and skittishness and the lingering dread to let go of a past that haunts you because it forces you to face the glare of uncertainty that terrifies you.
Through her eyes, RG Daughter calmly accepts my Keys life as it is–simple and quiet. Through her eyes, I now see my new house as a home, my simple waitress job as a decent one, and my co-workers as genuine and honest friends, in all their quirkiness. Through her eyes, I hope she knows how much that means to me, and how my love for her knows no end.