We had stopped for tea and cake in a cute little shop. Looking around at the dianty displays, it was difficult to believe that this used to be a shop of an entirely different sort- one that catered to people of our disposition.

We were nearly through with the girly portion of the day, and I was more than ready to sit back with a pint rather than sit straight as someone played with my face in a rather hopeless attempt to teach me to paint it properly as every girl should know how to do.

Uncomfortable and unsettling as it was, I was very grateful for her efforts. I had somehow skipped this stage, this learning of how to present myself as a woman, and she was helping me to catch up. I trusted her completely, though I still felt terribly exposed admitting how much I did not know. Some of the fear I had felt from before I had truly gotten to know her was returning- that fear of this woman who had everything figured out, who could sit in judgment of me as a bumbled through.

She knew this, and she was patient. Gentle. Kind. But persuasive and persistent. By the end of our excursion I was laden with potions and hope- optimistic hope both that what I learned today I could put to use and desperate hope that I would remember what all these little bottles were for when I finally made it home.

All said, I was ready for a drink, and not just the tea we had shared.

And so she called her partner to let him know that we were through and ready to meet at the pub. The conversation was brief, a simple exchange of information to facilitate the logistics of meeting up. Despite the dry nature of the subject, it was apparent that she was talking to Him. It was a subtle change, though even if I hadn’t known who she was calling, it would have been clear. She, who had been so firmly in the role of instructor thus far that day had slipped into a different mode. She was still assertive, still feisty, but with just a touch of deference.

There was a sudden, brief, but remarkable change as their exchange drew to a close. Dropping her head slightly, she eyed me momentarily before softly murmuring into the phone “Yes, Daddy.”

I knew that she used the term- she had written of it. It was a connotation-laden term, and one with an odd taste to me. I had read with tolerance, if not understanding.

But hearing her say it, seeing the change that it brought in her, I understood a bit more. It was so clearly an expression of love, an expression of roles, and an expression of vulnerability. She had mentioned hesitation in discussing her use of this word before, and I felt very privileged that she had allowed me to see this.

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