Tuesday, August 14, 2007

College Day

I delivered the girlfriend, her ex, and their daughter to the airport this morning before the sun came up so they could make their way out to their Ivy League destination. The first day of the rest of pretty much everyone's lives is underway. It's strange, this business of booting fledglings out of the nest, so maybe it's good I have this trial run before my own offspring takes off in a few years.

The dogs will be miserable. The girlfriend will be miserable. I wonder how long it will last.

My off to college experience was very different from this one. My mom moved to Dallas a month after my high school graduation; I stayed on in South Bend, living a couple of weeks with my German teacher, a month more with my English teacher (see the memorial two posts down), a last couple days with a friend. We celebrated my 18th birthday with cake and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers (hey, it was 1985) at her kitchen table, and the next morning she and another friend drove me to the bus station. I took the daylong trip to southern Illinois to spend a few days with my dad, and then he drove me the two hours to St. Louis to catch a plane to Dallas. I flew back up to Chicago with Mom and my stepdad a couple weeks later, they installed me in my room at Northwestern, and then they were gone. It wasn't until then that I was officially on my own, but the process had started two months before when I stood in the driveway of our empty house and watched Mom drive away to Texas with my dog in the back seat. I knew at that point that home, home in the sense of knowing that the same old bed in the same old room in the same house in the town where I grew up would be waiting for me to come back, was gone.

This kid is going straight from secure comfort to an alien environment with no buffer, no trip through Purgatory to shed the old baggage and emerge with a gleaming new skin, no intervening weirdness to make the solid stone buildings and regimented daily schedule a respite to be welcomed rather than an unknown to be feared. She'll be fine eventually, I know, however long eventually takes. The same sun that finally peeked over the Rincon mountains this morning had already been shining for three hours in the east. And so we go.

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