Here we are, nearing the end of the second semester of the first year of the first of our four children’s evacuation from the nest.
I didn’t write about the halfway point, in January, because I didn’t feel like wallowing. And to be honest, I didn’t really wallow. He was home for an extra week, bringing the total to five, which was both great and not so. When his dad took him back, through a snow storm I wasn’t willing to tackle, he was anxious to go, and I was anxious for him to get back and get the semester underway, finally.
Not surprisingly, there was a little delay, just like the delay when we moved him into his dorms last fall. Now, I’m in the post-spring-break funk. It’s a little like the post-spring break funk I suffered in 1989, but with less diarrhea, because that was my spring break and I was on my way home from San Felipe. That spring break, I lived in a hammock for five days. When I got home to Chico, I rested. That should tell you something about San Felipe.
On a sunny, dry, early spring day, I drove my son back to school. It was just the two of us. After a three-hour drive filled with cussing, laughter, and a little advice, we pulled up in front of his dorm, with 30 minutes to spare before his late-afternoon class. He hefted his bursting duffel across one shoulder and swung a stuffed backpack over the other. I wrapped my arms around his torso, but not quite as far as back in September, thanks to his dedication to the gym and the dining hall. I got on my tippy toes, tilted my head all the way up, and planted a kiss on his cheek. His lanky, yet more solid-by-the-day frame ambled away. Getting into the car, I noticed his car charger. I grabbed it, jumped out and darted over to him just as he strode into the breezeway. Tucking it into his backpack, I told him I loved him and then hit the road.
I drove dry-eyed over the mountain. In fact, there really wasn’t a moment. It was business. We went up on a Tuesday, after his doctor appointment, so he was already stressed about missing a day of classes. As I headed west, my thoughts scanned the rest of my crammed week, almost halfway finished, yet still stuffed with appointments, meetings, and household projects. After 30 seconds, when the idea of my fully packed half-week got mentally and physically uncomfortable, I turned to my latest audio book. For the next three hours, I was a groupie tagging along through four chapters of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, as he traversed the badlands of the mid-point of his career. What a badass.
Come to think of it, I was kind of a badass, making a turn-around trip over the Sierra Nevada, dropping my kid at the curb and speeding back to my world, without so much as a sniffle. Just like a boss (but not the Boss).
Then, I got home. The house was quiet. I work from home, so I know what a quiet house sounds, and doesn’t sound like. I thought about whether I’d have time to listen to a little more of Bruce’s story later that evening. I walked up the stairs. Then I glanced through the picture window, the one that faces east, that’s situated directly across from the upstairs landing. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the towering, snowy mountains I had just crossed. I thought about how far away in the distance they looked.
And I thought about my boy…on the other side.