Cop coffees with my daughter: life in a time of distance

Cop coffees with my daughter: life in a time of distance
Kate and I at our first cop coffee.

Inspired by my dear friend and fellow writer Shannan

You know how in cop shows, the detectives or patrolmen meet up in their cars, driver’s window to driver’s window? They talk about leads and then speed off to crime scenes. It’s always seemed so cool to me.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but my daughter and I somehow decided to meet up for coffees and park this way so that we could see each other without a computer mediating. I know it was my idea to call it “cop coffee.” I treasure each one.

She lives about 10 miles away and we meet closer to my town at the nearest open Starbucks. I get there first in the drive through line, wait for a long time (once for half an hour), get the coffees and then join her in the parking lot. We roll down our windows and chatter away for an hour or more.

It’s a small thing, sharing a coffee, but it’s a big thing, too. She’s just 10 miles away, but it may as well be 100 miles or more. COVID separates us from each other, from hugs, from cuddles on the couch, from watching YouTube videos together.

I remember so clearly the first night she moved out of our home. We rented a U-Haul and moved furniture up several flights of stairs, set up the bed, cleaned the filthy bathroom, tried to make her new place a home, knowing all the time that it was up to her to make it a home.

The quiet in our house that night was unsettling. She isn’t a loud person, but she loves to lie on the bed next to me and chatter about her day. She makes me laugh and those night time conversations have been so special.

Those days are long gone. Before COVID she would occasionally visit for the weekend and we could revisit some of our traditions. But she has truly made her apartment her home, and our place isn’t home anymore.

There’s a sadness in these changes, a loneliness. Especially now, there’s so much distance. I hate not being able to hug her close, to kiss her cheek, hold her hand. There’s no softening the hard fact that kids leaving home hurts.

Change is a constant, though. These moments of loneliness, of longing, also change. Both of us have weathered the storm pretty well. We have moved through to a new relationship, different, but good.

Watching her make a home has been wonderful. I suggested that she start a registry like they have for people getting married so that her family could buy her the things she needs.

She never had much interest in cooking when she lived at our home. But she is an adventurous cook now. We trade recipes and exchange ideas. We love to grocery shop together now. Cooking requires the right implements—at least they help. So we’ve had fun getting a garlic press and this pan or that gadget.

She’s also discovered working out. She calls herself a morning person now and gets up at 5:30 some mornings for intense workouts, now completed via Zoom.

When a child grows up, you start realizing that they know things you don’t. It’s both humbling and incredibly joyous. I love reaching out to her for help. So, as I’ve been trying to get back into shape, I naturally turned to her for an upper body workout.

She does her super duper gym-Zooms each day and then hosts her own Zoom with me, coaching me on how to lift weights the right way and how to stretch. I’m learning a whole new vocabulary and she’s learning how to modify exercises for me. Push-ups? I don’t think so, not now anyway. But wall push-ups, yes!

She knows other things, too. Like how to be kind or how to think through tricky ethical dilemmas. Like how to talk about difficult things with the people in her life. Like how to reach out for help when she needs it. Like how to travel on her own. Like how to live on a budget.

She struggles, too, of course. And when she does, it’s the real test of the distance. I want to be there. Now. And, sometimes, like in this era, I just can’t be.

Our most recent cop coffee was Sunday afternoon. The sun had broken through the clouds and it was warm. We found an open Starbucks and I backed in so that we could be window to window. We talked about things, little things. I had to shield my eyes from the sun. We laughed. We griped. We told stories.

When you’re connected by love, change can serve to strengthen the bond. Life is different now, both because she’s no longer living in our home and because of COVID. But life is good nonetheless. We have pivoted, adjusted, created a new us that is helping us grow.

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