Alone together on a Friday night, I wonder what I can put on the TV that will keep my daughter engaged with me and away from her phone.
In a stroke of genius, I go for “Friends: The Reunion” combining my past with her present.
We used to watch Friends before we had children, before we were even married, sitting on my second-hand furniture, in the house I’d bought just after Black Wednesday when my mortgage repayments were so high I had to go home to my mum’s house to eat because I couldn’t afford to buy food.
My daughter watches it now like children hold a comfort blanket when she’s tired, or happy, or sad.
There’s a palpable nostalgia I’m not quite ready for.
We’re pretty much the same age, the cast of Friends and me, and so the reminder of a time in my life that has long gone is more powerful than I’d anticipated.
Some of their faces have aged oddly which makes me think perhaps they’re not great with endings either.
But the ending that seems to be exercising people as much as any at the moment is the ending of lockdown.
Far from being a universal sigh of relief, it is bringing its own particular brand of anxiety.
It isn’t that we don’t want to go back to our offices, it’s just that we don’t want to relinquish some of the hard-won gains that we’ve found while we’ve been away.
Talking with my own supervisor some weeks ago she asked me,
“Are you working face to face again yet?”
I shuffle in my seat, knowing that I have been kicking this particular can down the road for a few months.
I look at the dog sleeping peacefully by my side who appears decidedly unaffected either way at my unhealthy detachment from the world outside.
But I’m grateful to have the luxury of determining how “going back” looks.
Some endings are not so flexible.
In the Friends programme they’re showing a clip of the very final episode.
I’ve never seen it and it brings a lump to my throat thinking about how that must have felt to work with people every day for a decade and then to see the nucleus of those relationships literally dismantled overnight.
“I cried the first time I saw this one,” my daughter says.
“I can see why. I used to get a bit teary after a five-night run of amateur dramatics at the Hazlitt Theatre,” I tell her.
The thing that made the last episode so much easier for my daughter is that she has had the luxury of playing it over and over until it doesn’t feel like anything anymore.
We can’t do that with most of our endings and that’s probably a good thing.
The only other type of ending I can think of, and one that seems easier to handle is the temporary one.
Walking through the woods with the dog early on Saturday we’re tracing a path through the last days of the bluebells.
Their colour is still there but you can see that their collective hearts are not in it. But there will always be next year until there isn’t, and that’s an ending most of us don’t want to know about.
Later, as my daughter is leaving the house she holds out an elbow to bump with mine by way of a goodbye.
“We can hug now that the restrictions are over,” I tell her.
“It’s OK. I prefer it like this,” she laughs.