Julian knew where to find his daughters when he wanted to see them. Juliette could be found either on the computer scouring the Internet for new recipes (or trolling teh forums) or in front of the television watching culinary training videos. Janessa could be found in the gym, and that’s where he went to find her. He was quite surprised when he didn’t see her there, but when he turned around to go back upstairs, he saw that she was sitting in the yoga studio.
“Hi, honey. Are you hiding in here?”
“Just thinking,” she said.
“Anything in particular?”
“Ahhh. Ok. I know exactly what this is about,” he said and slowly lowered himself to the bench. His knees were letting him exactly how old he was. “So…you’re conflicted about your complicated love life, huh?”
“Why does it have to be complicated? Why can’t people just understand and accept what I want? Everyone wants to change me!”
“Janessa…you do understand that your beliefs are not popular, right?”
She sighed. “Yes.”
“Right, so, you know you should expect some opposition…”
“Of course. I just feel like I’m alone in it. Like, there’s no one in the world who shares my beliefs! At this point, I feel like I’m destined to be ‘that girl’ who all the guys like. I want to be loved too, daddy.”
“Oh, honey! I want you to be loved too! With all my heart. You are the sweetest person…everyone knows it. Don’t worry, real love will come your way. I believe it. Whether you meet someone who shares your beliefs, or you just happen to change your mind, you have to believe it too. Let love lead you. Don’t feel pressured by what we want for you. Go where love takes you.”
She smiled in appreciation for his words. She knew that he wanted her to find the one and get married and start a family, but she appreciated that he left that decision up to her.
“Daddy? Have you ever thought a certain way and ended up changing your mind?”
His eyes roamed the ceiling tiles as he thought about it. “Yeah, kinda. I was thinking about your mom the wrong way, and it took me a while to realize how plummy it was.”
It wasn’t that Janessa was looking for reasons to change her mind, but she wasn’t going to dismiss a notion that would sway her. “What did you think about her?”
“We became friends at the end of high school, and shortly after we graduated, we were hanging out all the time and I considered her to be my best friend. I thought she was the most amazing person I had ever met, and she was beautiful and I respected her opinion above anyone else’s. I cared about her a lot. At first, I didn’t recognize that she liked me. I was a plumhead. When I realized she was into me, I felt conflicted about it because I started having feelings for her too, but I kept stuffing them down because I didn’t think it was possible for us to be such great friends and a couple. See, I held our friendship in such high regard, it was sacred to me. I didn’t want to do anything that would mess it up…including dating her. I felt like if we started dating, but it didn’t work out, our friendship would be ruined and I didn’t want to risk that. So, I convinced myself that I didn’t like her. I even started dating someone else! I didn’t realize it at the time, but my feelings had gone way past ‘like,’ and I couldn’t stop thinking about your mother…even while I was dating the other girl! Things happened in my life, and your aunt knocked some sense into me, and that’s how I realized what a plumhead I was.”
“Was it easy for you to accept?”
“Yeah! I had to stop lying to myself, but Callie made it plain for me. She used my own words to make me understand that I loved your mom. Most importantly, she showed me how what I was thinking was so dumb. She talked about my parents’ relationship and pointed out how they were still best friends even though they were lovers. I wish you could have known my dad while he was alive.”
Janessa was listening. She didn’t want to bypass Julian’s brief lament, but she had questions. “So…it’s possible I could be thinking about love in the wrong way, but one day I’ll change my mind?”
“I don’t want to tell you that you’re thinking about it wrong. It’s just different. But, who knows. Maybe one day you’ll see something you never saw before and will reevaluate things.”
Jeannette had been looking for Julian and walked in on their conversation. “Oh! There you are. What’s going on down here?”
“We’re just sitting here discussing love,” he said.
“Ooooh, ok. Well, don’t let me interrupt!”