I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think interior decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves – Anna Quindlen
Over jack fruit tacos, fresh chips and salsa and pumpkin bisque, she repeats the urgency to me. “At my age, I feel I should be on some path. I thought I had one, but now I don’t know what to do.”
She is 20. Her eyes glimmer the sea’s green under the sun.
“Maybe you’re already on your path,” I offer. “Searching and yearning is a path you return to periodically throughout your life, I suspect, judging from my own. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
She dips a chip, swivels and scoops the salsa to her mouth, chewing and thinking.
“No one gets how interesting it is that the same Aussie passes by the same spot outside the store each time I work.”
She’s off on a new topic, obviously.
“Or that the old dude with the baggy pants and dead cigar, who sits on the bench watching people go by is not creepy, just lonely. No one finds interesting the same things I do. No one even notices the same things I do. They just look at me blankly, like ‘I don’t get it.'”
Maybe she is not onto another topic after all, I think, and say to her, “You have the eyes and notice of a writer. Perhaps you should write.”
I smile inside at the thought–of her writing, of her at 20, and of her as my daughter. Her terrible beauty in striving splashes coolly recollected imagery over me of the shadow passion of a younger woman, far less stunning but more deeply driven. I too wanted to know my path back then, a college student looking for purpose and love and hating both, the need for either. I too was unable to see the road under my feet for my eyes focused farther down the way.
I mindlessly bring a chip to my lips and the crunching disrupts my musing. Watching her animated face, her lively expression full of open mouth laughter and wide eyed indignity at the passing observations, wishes and gripes she tosses out over half eaten tacos, I marvel at this bundle of gesticulations and well-spun tales of friends becoming strangers and strangers turned friends, this woman of my making with well-chosen words to help me see.
I see me and not me in her at 20. I only hope I was as engaging and fascinating a lunch date as she.