Last year my Facebook feed was filled with fearless faces of freshman going off to college for the first time—(how's that for unintentional alliteration?) —our babies heading out for the rest of their lives…without us. One of those posts was mine.
I don’t think my daughter Layla, felt the gravity of her decision to continue her education 3000 miles away (she couldn’t jump in an uber and come home on a weekend to do a wash and get a hug), until we were up above the clouds flying eastward into the unknown. Both sides now.
Adam and I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to think about our own adjustment. Though our daughter was nervous and anxious as many freshman are, her unease went beyond the typical garden-variety and we made the decision to stay in DC for almost 2 weeks, getting her emotionally acclimated and making sure she stuck (as in stayed put). We were occupied to say the least...worrying.
Sending her off for sophomore year—this morning in fact—was a different experience for all of us. She knew where she was going and who she’d be with. She didn't even need us to accompany her on the journey. Adam had a prior commitment so I took Layla to the airport alone. We listened to This American Life on NPR as we calmly weaved along Mulholland Drive heading for LAX.
At the terminal she printed a boarding pass...all by herself. Got her baggage tags...all by herself. From the day they're born, we're teaching them how to be independent. It's working. “Text me when you’re through security. Text me when you’re boarding. Text me text me text me.” And up the escalator she floated.
Last year when I returned home to an empty nest, I had a good cry in her bedroom, smelled her pillow…her pajamas—if you’ve been there, you know the drill. But it was a very busy time for me. I was furiously crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. Occupied. No time to think about 'now what?'. When that book was published in March there were Readings, Events, Podcasts. Busy year.
I’ve always been a girl who needs goals. I’m happiest in #Pursuit. The left side of possibility, as opposed to the right, is my preferred location. And that’s where I was.
Text…she’s through security. Good. That’s good.
Driving home on the 405 I hear Daya (a young Lorde IMO) sing “Sit Still, Look Pretty.” Bravo. An emerging young artist who isn’t relying on tits and ass. My mind occupied.
And then Zeppelin—“Stairway To Heaven”—I contemplate my roots. I also wonder about that recent claim of "Stairway" infringing on Spirit's "Taurus." Mind engaged.
Text...she found her friends at the gate. All that potential ahead of them…on the left side of possibility…lucky girls.
Maybe I’ll stop at Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods, cuz having some pretentious snacks in the fridge always cheers me up.
Text...she’s boarding…awesome. We want an uneventful air travel experience.
At the market, in somewhat of a fog, I load savory, decadent delicacies into my basket: castelvetrano olives, grilled artichokes, fromager d'affinois, and of course, a bottle of Frankincense essential oil. I unmindfully return the one-too-many tub of hummus to a shelf, alongside a box of organic tampons. Nobody notices.
I make it out of Whole Paycheck for under $100. Amazing.
I put the bag of groceries in the empty space of my trunk where a suitcase fit snuggly an hour ago.
Ahh—there’s the text that says she’s taking off and the “I love you” that follows. Damn. I’m 3 minutes late. She’s in the air already and I didn’t get to return my love via text. I tell myself I know she knows I love her. Still it will bother me. I musta lost track of time while pondering the flavored vinegars. #BadMother.
The guilt expands. The summer behind us….maybe I should have gone with her to museums…cooked her favorite meal more often. Then again, she was out and about with her friends all the time. Maybe I got on her case too much about leaving dirty dishes in the sink? And forgetting to empty the dishwasher? Then again, maybe I should have given her more responsibilities. I'm too easy. The world isn't like that. And it’s my job to get her ready for the world. Besides, deep down they all need someone telling them what to do even if they don’t want to do it.
On the upside, I’m about to be reunited with my privacy. I can break out a vape. Sun bathe in the nude. Get creative on my own schedule. Listen to Classic Rock on 11. There will be less half-filled drinking glasses strewn randomly about the house. "One less bell to answer. One less egg to fry."
I get home. It’s Quieter. Stiller.
I’ll go for a run, release some endorphins. That’s always uplifting. Plus…occupied!
I’ll practice guitar. My callouses are coming along quite nicely and I’m more fluent than ever. I can even perform after a glass or two of wine. In fact I sound even better after a glass or two of wine. But that could be the Chardonnay talking.
There's much to look forward to. Book related activities are in second gear…I'll embark on a college tour next month with Suzan Koc, my wifey. #RoadTrip. #ThelmaAndLouise. Occupied Stay occupied.
Plus, I’ll be recording an audio format of Confessions which I'll put forth for a Grammy nomination in the Spoken Word category next year. That’s a goal! #Pursuit
I know enough to keep going through motions and take care of myself—drink lots of water, take vitamin D and calcium, exercise—until there is purpose and intention again, behind the motions. Follow my smile. Fake it til I make it.
Between hellos and goodbyes my good life goes on. So why do I feel so...meh?