Patience Before Passion, or the Road of Comprehension

When I think about my stepfather, one story in particular springs to mind. It was summer 1992, right before breaking from school. I was experiencing an enormous crush on an older boy who I rode the school bus daily with. At fourteen, a girl, who never had a boyfriend before, is destined to think that the object of her crush is no less than the prince she was bound to meet; horse or no horse, he is the one. I dreamt about Igor day and night, missing out on what teachers were trying to convey to my half melted brain, weakened by the sun.
Sam, my step dad, was first to notice that something strange was happening to me. At dinner he asked with his usual directness if I was in love and, feeling exposed, I turned the colour of borscht – the beetroot soup that we were having. I glanced at him wondering how he guessed. He was always good at knowing what I was going through; sometimes reading me better than mom.
I decided to make him my confidant. After the revelation, he said nothing at first, following his most noticeable trait of keeping his mouth shut and moving slowly. This trait of his was to me a sure sign he wasn’t my biological dad. That and of course the fact that he met my mom when I was nine.
A true engineer, he would always first identify the problem. Then, ponder on it. After that, come up with a solution. Then, devise a way of execution. After that, draw a plan. And only after all this would he act upon something. I still don’t understand how he and my mom ended up together.
This way of his was true then, as it is now. He approaches everything in that way, be it a picnic, a wedding or a funeral.
The day after I told him, he invited me for a chat in his bedroom office. There was one chair, he sat on the bed.
“I’ve been thinking about your problem…,” he began. It sounded promising. I waited impatiently. “Do you really like this boy?” He asked me. I lowered myself into the chair.
“I do, I do, he’s really… I think I’m… Well yeah. I like him.” I wasn’t used to having an intimate conversation with Sam. It made me feel awkward. Suddenly the object of my desire became merely a subject. But I wanted to make progress, so I continued, “Do you think I should tell him? Or!” I jumped off the chair with excitement pushing it backwards, “I thought that I could ask a friend ̶ “.
“Wait,’’ he interrupted.
“OK,” I mumbled and sat back down.
He reached for the old IBM. I figured he’s going to need the chair, so I moved onto the bed, and he took my place at the table. These silent moments which are so typical of Sam were strange for me to get used to at first. Today, thirty years down the line, I am still thrown aback by them sometimes.
The computer was now showing a neat spread of Solitaire. Sam was clicking on the mouse. As much as I wanted to be cool and able to play this quiet game, I wasn’t built for it.
“Sam? Is this the silence of the lambs?’’ I asked. He half smiled and moved his heavy body just enough to let me know that he’s still with me. I got up to pace the area between the big double bed and the wall, checking his Buddha body in the wardrobe mirror each time I passed the bed’s corner. I began to worry that he’s not approving of my crush, suspecting that he’s going to tell mom on me.
After what seemed like the turning of the page of history itself, he finally spoke. Like some Jedi, whose long anticipated words shower those abiding in the dark with supreme light of wisdom, he uttered again.
“Wait.’’ Another long pause. “Let him know that you like him and wait for him to come to you.”
“But why wait?” I erupted. He obviously wished to exhaust me in regard to this boy wanting to make me wait until I stopped liking him. What a plan, what viciousness. No way am I going to wait any longer. I have waited already for a whole month! And anyway, wait for what? I don’t need him to come to me; these are the times of feminism, Sam, in case you didn’t notice. I can tell a boy myself that I like him.
“OK, thanks,” was all I said to my stepfather before leaving the room.
The next day, before I went off to school, he said to me.
“Don’t be angry with me, I just want you to understand that patience is more important than passion. You don’t have to agree with me now, just think about it, OK?’ I scratched my neck with a reluctant nod. The only thing I have thought about was that my next advice would be taken from mom.
I dated that boy for two weeks, and it turned out pretty ugly at the end – broken heart and mistrust was all I got.
Twenty odd years later I met my future husband still not following Sam’s advice. Broken heart, mistrust and two kids were all I got.
Now I only begin to understand what he was saying to me then. As Phil Collins sings so jolly, “You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait…” I suppose that’s what second chances are for.
The trouble with good advice sometimes is that we simply cannot follow it until we fully comprehend it. And this comprehension is the exact road our lives are taking to get to that advice.

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