This is a short essay on the event of my son moving out of state. Let me know if this resonates with you.
It is strange to be writing this meditation on your leaving home in your old bedroom, on your bed that I replaced with a different comforter when you took your old one to your new apartment in a new state. The Legos are still on the shelves and the electric guitar with the broken string sits in the corner of the room, like always. I expect you to call “Mom!” from the kitchen, bound up the stairs two steps at a time, and rush through the door with your hand in a box of Triscuits. But that doesn’t happen, nor will it ever again. My old mom self would be crying now for the loss of childhood, as I did when I dropped you off at college. But something has changed. And I think I know just what it is.
When you told us that you wanted to leave California after graduating from college and find a job in another state, I was shocked. I thought since you decided to stay near home for college, you would work here too. Instead, you said you wanted to leave the traffic, the crowds, the high cost of living. You researched and found an affordable city with a growing economy surrounded by stunning mountains and plenty of outdoor activities. I said “Are you sure?” hoping you would change your mind. But when you said yes, I could feel my eyes tear up and my body grow limp, even as I tried to smile to show support. I thought I only had to let you go once when you went to college. But that was only for four years, and this seemed like it could be forever.
You found an apartment after visiting the new city and arranged all the moving details on your own. You rented a U-Haul to hitch to the used truck that you insisted we buy you for graduation. You packed the U-Haul with our old couch, some furniture from your apartment in college, kitchenware, and clothes. If I had known you would be driving away from me and your childhood home, I probably would have thought twice about buying you that truck. You asked us to drive out with you in another car to help you settle into your new place, which I looked forward to. You insisted that we not follow the U-Haul right behind. I laughed that you still didn’t want to be seen with us. I was just happy to be driving behind you, sight unseen.
I remember moving to New York after graduating from college on the East Coast when I was 21. I was excited to be setting off on my first real adventure as an adult, earning a salary (albeit barely livable) and being on my own. The whole world seemed open to me, and I embraced my new life with open arms. Now you are starting your first full-time job and thriving while living by yourself. Your whole life is ahead of you, as it once was for me.
You are no longer the shy, young boy I once knew. You are now a mature, responsible, and independent young adult. I am comforted knowing this is exactly where you should be and what you should be doing. The person who has changed the most is YOU. And as a result, I have too.
I don’t break down anymore when you and your sister leave home for long periods of time (thank goodness). I know now that you will leave home, come back, and venture out again, and that’s okay. I have learned that separation is normal, and I shouldn’t feel so sad each time. I realize I too had to move away and work on the East Coast to become an adult, and I understand you do too.
In the meantime, I decided to convert your old bedroom into my writing studio to make up for the emptiness. I’m making lots of progress on my novel, using your old desk to write and arranging my books on your bookshelf next to your Legos. Daisy lays next to me to keep me company, as I know she did with you. As you can see, you’re never that far away in my heart, and I will never be able to let go completely!
Thank you to all my readers for following me on my journey as a parent and a writer. I will be part of an author’s panel at the PV Peninsula Women’s Breakfast on October 5th. If you are interested in hearing about the writing process from myself and other local authors, let me know and I will send you more information.
Please comment on the blog and let me know what it was like when you or your child started working full-time, where it was, and what it was like.
Enjoy your summer!