A white and white-haired, dad-bodded man and a trim young lady walked into the dining hall one morning last week. The pair came from a room of six, so I had just assumed the rest of the party (like the mother and the other kids) was lagging behind that morning, as large rooms tend to split up quite regularly.
However, they came back for lunch, just the two of them, and proceeded to hold hands across the table. I guess that could be kosher father-daughter stuff. Not really at her age – seemingly around 23 or 22 – but it’s not the most alarming familial interaction. She could also still be very child-like, as most of us “Millennials” get that rep.
Run-in number three, and she kisses him straight on the mouth. That’s officially not her dad, and for two days straight I had been thinking about this relationship too much, as it did not sit very well with me. Was she coping poorly with abusive father issues from her past? Was she being a little punk and going against her nuclear family’s conventional and conservative upbringing? But after accepting the relationship and observing them a bit longer, I then realized something important and the troubled thoughts vanished entirely.
I talked to him briefly after yet another run-in, as we mutually recognized each other at that point. We talked about skiing that day and going out west for the “real” mountains, and he was quick to share that he had climbed the highest peak in every state, throwing place-names in Idaho to confirm to me that he had in fact been to my home state. He then looked at me, for confirmation, and I could see it in his eyes.
While he wasn’t awkward in conversation and nice enough, he was still very, very much a child. Who knows how old he really is – 46? 52? And the young lady? 22?
But as far as men mature (interacting with everyone from my age growing up to this point to men well into their 50s and 60s in professional positions spanning academia to marketing and finance), it is very rare that any males really learn or change much more after about 20; if they haven’t already grown into a dapper, conscientious (and as such sought-after) young man by then, it is not likely he will change much later to become so. So whether she was born like 30 years earlier and met him at a more similar age or met him at this point with this age gap like she did (I heard they “eloped” while up here, with four people total at their “wedding”), it doesn’t really matter. And I suppose what I should really be thinking is that it’s very mature and open-minded of her, or of both of them, to be in such a relationship and really go after “love”, despite societal convention and the judgement of people – like I had – around them.