We were driving somewhere. In Denver.
I lived in Boulder, a little hippie college town a world away. He had visitation rights. He hadn’t been too good to my mom, or me.
But I loved him. We all make mistakes.
I was 12. I was talking about some girl I was in love with—maybe Elle MacPherson, the star of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues at the time.
He, relieved, said,
God, I’m glad you’re not gay. I figured [being raised by mom] you’d turn out gay.
I was only 12—but in that moment I knew I was hearing a sort of silly prejudice. It’s not that he was really prejudiced, maybe—he might have just wanted to be a grandpa. But I knew it wasn’t love, in that moment—it was conditional love.
And he taught me, by negative example, what love was.
You love your child or lover or parent or real friend. No matter what. That doesn’t mean you don’t give them honest feedback. But love is love, whether the object of our love fits our notion of what you wanted, or not.
Irrelephant mindful bonus: