Last night, I became attached to a girl from Nebraska. In the pool, in the hot tub. I think she was around 13 or so, up visiting with her grandfather for a part of the summer. I think she was probably desperately in need of attention, because there were some family issues that came out of our talking that made me think perhaps there was a reason she was not traveling with her current parents (long story which I shall not go into).
Anyway, as it turned out, her grandfather had gone back to his room, so we ended up having the pool area to ourselves for about an hour and a half. We talked about swimming, and books, and TV shows-- turns out she's a big fan of Tales from the Crypt and Goosebumps, so we talked a lot about those and other scary stuff.
Around 11:00, I decided to call it a night, and I walked her back to her hotel room. And as I proceeded back to mine, I realized that I had just been on a date:
I had just spent a couple of hours in the company of a girl who enjoyed being with me and I with her. We found subjects in common that we liked. And at the end, I walked her to her front door. Hell, it's really one of the more successful dates I've had.
Okay, yeah, it's a little silly, but it was genuinely nice. It's been a long time since I've been on a date where I didn't feel the need to perform somehow. I can't really remember one. Do the experiences of becoming an adult really force us into bearing shields of protection when we interact with someone? Those walls we put up to protect us from harm-- do they maybe do more harm than good? Do they keep us from interacting honestly and without guile with our fellow humans?
No, I'm not exactly gonna start dating 13-year-old girls. But it did open my eyes to a freshness and open friendliness that I haven't seen in a long time. There was no doubt in my mind that she wanted to be there with me, that she was enjoying talking with me. I doubt that it had as much to do with me specifically, other than the things we turned out to have in common, but I think her family life may not give her all the attention she wants/needs.
I know that if that is truly the case, she will be in for a hard life. Emotional distance from a parent is an earmark of certain social disasters later in life. But perhaps she is lucky enough that she is truly well-adjusted and just friendly. That would be massively cool.
I just don't know.
But however it turns out, we had one night together that was nice, and I hope she remembers that along the way.