rchan: (smile -- xd_inc)
[personal profile] rchan
My mother moved from one town to another when she was 16 years old. Just a couple of miles away, but at that age, that may as well be a continent. Her father had just died, and she left all her friends and everything familiar behind. Her last two years of high school were... well. Not pleasant ones. Fifty years later, you can still here the resentment in her voice when she talks about that move. There are really only three people from her second school that she ever mentioned with any fondness at all, only one of those three was someone she called a friend -- her best friend, Diane.

Now, I never met Diane. She moved to England at least 8 years before I was born. And my mom never really talked about her when I was growing up -- not until I was older. Turns out, they'd lost touch. My mom had been to visit her before I was born, but by the time we visited England when I was 16, they'd lost track of each other. But when I was old enough to understand that that could happen, my mom talked about her and the memories were always good ones.

Then a few years ago, my mom got on Facebook, and, lo and behold... they found each other! And since then they've been in constant contact, talking on Facebook, emailing, you name it. It got to the point that they were comfortable enough with each other again that when I went to England this past May, my mother was actually sad that Diane was going to be in Spain when I was there, because I couldn't go meet her. And honestly, I was sad, too. Because one thing I've noticed about my mother is... she doesn't always seem to like her friends much? They were friends of convenience or people who liked her and she felt bad for so she hung out with them or people who were parents of mine or my sister's friends, but there aren't many women that I can remember her really enjoying spending time with, apart from her friend Bette. Who died of ovarian cancer... fuck, 10 years ago, now? But she always sounded so happy when talking about Diane and I was genuinely upset that I missed a chance to meet her but ONE. FUCKING. WEEK.

Anyway. Back to present day. This weekend is their high school reunion. And get this -- Diane came over here for it! And she came over for dinner tonight and I got to meet her! Now, when someone gets built up in your head that much over a lifetime, you always worry that they won't live up to your expectations or you won't live up to theirs, right? So, I actually got a bit dressed up for dinner (to compensate for having no voice, THANKYOUVERYMUCH LARYNGITIS), and went over early to my mom's house. And mom and I were talking and she's kind of dancing around telling me something and finally 'fesses up that Diane is living with a woman and calls her "her mate" and she doesn't really know what that means, but it might mean something and it might not, but basically don't bring it up unless she does because my Uncle is occasionally weird about that kind of thing and mom just didn't want to deal.

So... not only is this lady already Really Awesome and super built up in my head, but now she was potentially Not Straight, too?? :D (She was married to a man, so whether this other lady is just a good friend, a queerplatonic partner, a lover, or whatever, I don't want to make assumptions about lesbian/bisexual/whatever.) Anyway, she finally arrives and just super super nice and has a wonderful sense of humor and fits right in with the rest of us. Not only that, but you know how I'm a veterinarian who became a teacher and then pursued a doctorate in education? Well, she's a teacher who became a nurse who now has a doctorate in education. A mirror image of my own life path.

Have you ever started talking to someone you never met and it's like you've known them forever? We were just... bit in the teeth and off to the races. ^_^ (And that was NOT easy with as little voice as I had, let me tell you! Seriously. Fucking laryngitis. UGH. :P) And I feel like I could easily have talked to her for four hours more and not run out of things to say. She snuck in some career/research advice while we were talking and eventually left promising to email me an article she thought I'd enjoy reading. Not only that, but my mom called me later, to tell me that when she'd been driving her back to the hotel, she told my mom that she was really impressed with me and really enjoyed talking to me. And my mom then said that she thought I'd enjoyed talking to her, too, and she'd known I would. And I said I really had. And somehow that sent me a little over the moon that Diane was impressed with me?

And that got me thinking... apart from my mother, I feel like I had so few women to look up to in my life, certainly no academics. My mom got a master's degree and she taught middle school her whole life. She enjoyed her education, but mostly for its practical value. And apart from her... I can't honestly think of a single other woman I knew growing up who I could look up to for that kind of guidance and to potentially emulate. I forged my path completely on my own. The few people in my field that I looked up to for that kind of mentorship were pretty much all men or, by the time I met them... my own age. :P Until last year and my one doctoral professor with whom I occasionally squee about Hamilton. But as well matched as we are in some areas... she's social studies, not science. And it's silly but, I never really thought about it until tonight that maybe I missed out on something by not having academically minded woman with an advanced degree (i.e., a doctorate) to act as a mentor for me growing up.

Now, had Diane not moved to England, she might have stayed an elementary teacher. Had she not moved to England at a time when they didn't recognize U.S. teaching credentials, she might not have pursued nursing. She might never have ended up with a doctorate in education. She might not be the same person I so easily saw myself looking up to tonight. But even so, I'm a little sad that she wasn't in my life before age 37, and I'm feeling kind of nostalgic for what might have been. It's left me feeling mildly melancholy.

Then again, I'm sure we'll be in touch via email now, and I've already been promised dire circumstances if I don't tell her the next time I hop across the Pond, so that's kind of awesome. ^_^ I look forward to it. ^_^
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September 2017



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