Today we spent the afternoon at my son Andy's girlfriend's housewarming party. It was good to spend time with Jenny, getting to know her. We've not been around her very much in the last two years of dating because she's rather shy. Add in that neither Jim nor I were very sure exactly how serious their relationship is. Seems like it's getting more serious than either of us thought.
We had a very nice time. Jenny is lovely, her new home is lovely, her animals are lovely. We enjoyed the long drive through the beautiful fall Virginia countryside to her new home. We were happy to meet various members of her family, especially her parents. Jim and I discovered we had a number of things in common with her parents. Her father is also ex-military, like Jim and we found out that not only Andy but his girlfriend Jenny were born in Germany. Small world.
Her parents were apparently eager to meet us and said some very nice things about Andy. I was glad because you always wonder what the other partner's family is going to be like. In May Andy will be leaving his job and moving out of the townhouse he shares with his younger sister, her boyfriend and a friend of theirs from high school, moving out to the new house in the countryside of Virginia with Jenny. Now that I've seen the house, met the parents and talked to those involved it eases my mind somewhat. Andy will still have to find a job, but I feel certain that something will turn up in the area.
This led to some interesting discussion on the drive home and later with friends online. I admit I was concerned about this relationship because I think it's the first really what you might call 'serious' relationship Andy has been in. He's dated and he's had girlfriends, but not like this. I just want him to be as sure as he can be, because I don't want him deciding a year or five years down the road that he's somehow missed out or made a mistake.
And mistakes are so easy to make. Jim and I talked about some of our relationship missteps with others before we started seeing each other while we rode home. I cannot help but remember when my first real boyfriend, the guy I necked with in the school cloakroom when I was 14. When we were doing all that cloakroom necking, going to school dances together and holding hands in the local Burger King during our six month romance Mike gave me a present that my father teased me endlessly about. Mike gave me a white pet rat. My father howled with laughter and called it the 'Engagement Rat', saying that boys were supposed to give you a promise ring, not a rodent as a present. We broke up shortly after that, and I had to rehome the rat with my friend Frances.
When I was 21, working, going to school and trying to raise my daughter on my own my old clunker of a car broke down as I was on my way to work after class. I managed to pull into a convenience store cum filling station and get the hood up only to find I had a split hose, the hose that went to the heater core. A kind young man stopped to help me and it was Mike, my first boyfriend. He stayed with me until the tow truck came before giving me a ride home. We talked on the ride and Mike kept telling me he'd never forgotten me and that he still loved me.
Seven long years after our first romance I started dating him again, but it was obvious pretty quickly that there had never been enough there between us, at least from my side. Plus I found his family pretty horrifying on so many levels. While Mike worked a decent job and got decent wages his family lived in and out of public housing and on welfare with a pile of children. The adults drank, drugged and seemed very shiftless. Mike was like a changeling dropped in their midst by mistake. I found myself cringing so many times in their presence. While Mike was a decent guy, a good guy, there was just no spark there, no love and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't summon up any feeling beyond friendship for him no matter how much he said I was the love of his life. I ended up breaking up with Mike a second time.
That's the thing I learned the second time around with Mike. You cannot fake it, you cannot will up feelings for someone because they happen to have certain feelings for you. Everything else are surmountable problems.
I cannot tell you how happy I am to see Andy with a young woman that loves him, that's a good person and that he has a good relationship with her parents. You can't fake those things, or force them if they are not there. I'm glad he hasn't had the same long search for love that both Jim and I went through before finding each other.