There's nothing like a wee blast from the past to shake away your cobwebs.
Saturday night, I'm bored out my skull. I've changed my bed linen in a vain attempt to pass 30 minutes or so, having earlier stripped it in a vain attempt to pass 30 minutes or so and I'm sat on the sofa looking at Dr Who thinking to myself "Where did I leave the sharp knife?" and seriously contemplating stabbing myself just to see if it's more fun.
All of a sudden the phone starts ringing. It's my friend Mary on the phone. Mary is the Mum (actually she's the Granny but that's a whole other story!) of my daughters pal. Daughter is currently round at Mary's, where she's been since Thursday night on a bizarre ever-extending sleep over! Mary sounds a bit breathless and launches into telling me what she's ringing for. We're on the phone for all of 3 minutes before I put it down. I'm in a bit of a state of shock. I explain the conversation to Better Half as I am raking in the fridge for a chilled bottle of wine. Minutes later I'm on my way round to Mary's with my wine in hand. Although to be honest I'm not heading for Mary's but rather for her friend's house which is where Mary is right now. It's only a few doors away.
The walk only takes a few minutes and on the way there my mind is wandering. I'm being transported back in time and memories are flooding my head. Truth be told I'm a bit apprehensive. I can hear Mary and her friend before I see them. I walk along the pavement and my pace slows down a bit. I take a deep breath and I'm there. Mary let's out a shout of "Hiya, have you come round to see me? I'm having a wee drink here with my pal. Do you want to join us?". Mary knew I was coming but this is all part of the pretence. Everyone is out on the doorstep. It's a lovely spring night and the sun is still out.
Mary's pal introduces herself and offers me a drink. I'm looking at who else is here. Apart from Mary and my new hostess there's 2 teenage girls. I look at them both and I find myself staring at one of them. I know instantly it's her. She's beautiful. Her face hasn't changed at all. I say hello as my hostess tells me their names and tells them mine. There's a flciker of recognition is her face as she hears my name. Nothing else is said and we launch into general chit chat as women do. There's no sign of my daughter or her pal until an hour or so later. Mary has spent much of the hour engaging me in conversation and looking a bit nervous. The pretence it seems is getting to her as well. My daughter and her pal make a brief appearance and then head away again. They go to Mary's house with a few more pals in tow to listen to music. A warning from Mary ringing in their ears that she can see right into her living room from where she is so they better behave.
Another hour goes by. The sun is setting and the vodka and wine have been flowing. Between us we've covered a range of subjects but the main one and the reason for my visit is left unspoken...for now. Another 30 minutes goes by and the teenage girl who I had caught myself staring at and who has since been staring at me when she thinks I'm not looking gets up to go to the toilet. "I take it she knows who I am?" I ask Mary. "Aye. I think she's sussed it out. It might be time to say something" she replies. I nod my head. Mary's pal nods as well "Aye. It's as good a time as any. It'll be fine she's as...". Mary interrupts with an over noisy "Ssshhhh" and points to the door.
The girl is making her way back down the stairs and is within earshot. She steps outside. I'm standing up and decide it's now or never. She's looking at me and pauses at the top of the steps as if she knows I'm about to speak. "I take it you know who I am?" I ask her. "Yeah I think so, I wasn't sure. Your hairs much longer" she looks a bit nervous. I laugh "You haven't changed a bit" I tell her "even in 10 years". She smiles. I ask her if she's met my daughter. "Yes" she says. "Does she know who you are?" I ask. I'm a bit nervous of the answer. "No, I haven't said anything to her" she replies. I smile and feel a wee bit relieved. "Well do you want to meet her properly?" I ask. She looks to the ground and I look at her face trying to read it, I am transported back a decade and I see a much smaller version of her in front of me, a little 8 year old who could be so shy and quiet. "Yeah" she replies in a voice barely more than a whisper. "It's up to you" I tell her "there's no rush. If you want to leave it to another time then it's fine." She looks over towards Mary's house "I'm fine with it really. I'm grown up as long as you think she'll be ok with it" she says. For the love of me I am struggling to see past the little 8 year old of a decade ago. "She'll be fine. She's been dying to meet you" I tell her. She nods at me and smiles. "I'll go and get her then".
I walk over to Mary's house and 10 year old is on the stair. I tell her there's someone I want her to meet. On the short walk back I point out the girl now sitting on the step and ask 10 year old is she's met her. She tells me she has. I ask if she knows who she is. She tells me she's a friend of the girl who lives there. I whisper to 10 year old that I know her as well. "How?" enquires 10 year old. We're on the path now and she's sitting in front of us on the step. There's no time to answer the question. 10 year old is a bit in front of me and her face is in line with the girls face. You could almost have heard a pin drop as everything went quiet. People round about seemed to be holding their breath. The two girls staring at each other for a second or so. I put my arm around 10 year old's waist and my face near to her ear, took a deep breath and said quietly "Honey, this is your big sister". The girl smiled at her and said hello. 10 year old smiled back. My apprehension disappeared. It was going to be fine.
And that was my blast from the past. My step-daughter. My 10 year old's big sister.
It's been a decade since I saw her last. I've seen her just once in those 10 years and that was only for a minute as she passed me in a shop about 6 years ago. She's now an 18 year old only a few months away from her 19th birthday. The story of why I haven't seen her is a whole post in itself but suffice to say that from the age of 3 until she was 8 she was a big part of my life. She was my first "bairn". One of the family. Her and 10 year old have the same Dad. Her mother was his first wife and I was his second. We would have her to stay every weekend and as often as we could outwith then such as holidays and the like. 1996 rolled round and 10 year old was born. We saw her only a handful of times after that and by the time 10 year old's first birthday came round her Mum had decided not to let us see her anymore. It was a sad time. I was very attached to her and that decision all those years ago meant that 10 year old has no memories of her sister...only photographs of the two of them together. I've been seperated from their Dad for nearly 8 years now although we are still married having never gotten divorced. 10 year old hasn't had any contact from him in 2 years. 18 year old hasn't had any since she was 8.
I looked at the two of them last Saturday night as they sat chatting and getting to know each other tentatively and I felt a sadness. Here were 2 beautiful girls. Both different (18 year old has blonde hair and blue eyes where 10 year old has dark brown hair and eyes...she looks a lot like their Dad) yet both similar as well and they had a Dad out there who didn't know what he was missing. A Dad who has at one time or another denied both of them and claimed they did not exist. Here were his two gorgeous daughters together for the first time in a decade and it was me there to see it and not him.
It's early days but there are plans in place for 18 year old (and her boyfriend who we met as well and who seems really nice) to take 10 year old out for the day in a few weeks to get to know her better. 10 year old is happy with that...especially when she heard they'd take her in the convertible!
I knew one day their paths would cross. I expected it to be at a funeral. A funeral for the man who doesn't want to know. I thought it would be a long way off in the future. It's happened now though. We'll take it a step at a time and see what happens...It's made me feel old....having a step daughter of 19 when your only 33 can do that!...but it's also made me happy to see her again.