This morning the parking attendant near my office stopped me as I was paying. He’s moody, so I never know if he’s going to smile or growl at me.
“I admire you”, he said.
“Why is that?”, I asked.
“You have a child and you are alone”, he answered.
Way to start the day.
(I know he meant well, but the only pity I want is free babysitting. And more vacation time. And free wine. And a chef service at home. And a housekeeper. That’s all. )
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
(Sent to me by my dad, so he can’t be so bad.)
I woke up this morning already grumpy at having to endure the dual punishment of both a snowy Monday and Valentine’s day on the same day, because I’m not a fan of either one.
And then this image landed in my inbox, courtesy of Magnum Photos.
I love it for so many reasons. Because it’s somewhere hot, because they’re so into each other they don’t care who sees them. Because it’s so blatant that it’s innocent. Because their friend keeps driving as though she’s used to them snogging away in broad daylight, yet again. It’s all about them - nobody else matters.
And it helps that his back isn’t furry.
It reminds me of this photograph of my parents, taken in the 70s.
They are sitting in the back of a car. I think this was taken in Rome, where they met when they were both journalists, before I was born. Perhaps even before they realized they weren’t right for one another, though they both tell me they knew it early on. Or were they on the way to their wedding day? It doesn’t matter. I’m grateful for photographs like this, because although I’ve long made peace with their horrid divorce, it’s good to see that I and my brothers came from such a gorgeous if temporary tenderness.
It comforts me to know I came from love. Which is what I was telling my own child the other day - that she came from two people who loved each other very much when they chose to have her, even though her dad and I are now divorced. Her response was, “wow mama, thanks for sharing”, but her 7 year-old cheekiness is another story.
I hope it comforts her to look at photos of her dad and I one day, photos of us before we knew that we too would one day be victims to temporary tenderness. She comes from so much good and so much happiness. And no regrets whatsoever (other than leaving the Cayman Islands, where this was taken).
Maybe that’s all we can hope for when we love someone: good leftovers when and if that love ends. A tenderness that yields something good, whether it’s a child, a memory or a photograph that ends up in someone’s inbox and makes them smile.