There was an impression of the future opening before you on a path carpeted by fallen leaves.
My friends were quick to remind me that it’s not yet the end of summer: We still aren’t through hurricane season; the last tourist stragglers haven’t left for homes in
or Alabama Georgia;
the first snowbirds have yet to begin winging south; the heat hasn’t broken;
these are still the Dog Days.
But the weather that morning was like a promise — particularly arriving as it did, the morning after we returned from helping our daughter move out of town, to start a new life in a
The air seemed to confirm a season of change in our lives, preceding the changing of the seasons.
The house had felt empty and vast the night before, and not just because some furniture and books (and cats) were somewhere else now, though I tried to pretend that was the cause. It was the sort of emptiness that could lead to melancholy, if you’re susceptible.
But we’re no strangers to this emotional state of change. We went through this once before, when our son moved off to college. (He came back, but he was out of town on a tour with his band as I wrote this, which contributed to the quiet at home.)
In the quiet you wonder, “Is this what it’s going to be like?” And the answer is yes, in the best of all possible worlds. Yes, if all goes well. Yes, if they succeed and prosper, chase dreams and catch them. Yes, if you’re secure in the knowledge that they are where they want to be.
Things change. Children grow up, choose their own clothes, like bad TV shows, move out, and whatever follows that.
My daughter is one of those now. She graduated from FSU-PC this summer, and started boxing up her life a couple of weeks ago. I held her for a long time Sunday before driving away, which was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done.
(An aside: All the U-Haul places in
Tallahassee were filled to
the gills with returned trailers and trucks by Sunday afternoon, as students
arriving for the start of the new school year on Monday (or their parents)
dropped off their rentals. A store manager driving a U-Haul truck towing a
trailer led us from his location where we were supposed to turn in our trailer (it
was jam-packed) to another that had a muddy field filled with orange-and-white vehicles, like a U-Haul
Now the dogs stare down the hall, waiting for someone who isn’t there, and I realize I don’t have to try to walk quietly on the stairs in the early hours of the day. I won’t get up in the morning to find she left a pile of dishes in the sink after cooking in the middle of the night, or have her cat, Leeloo, talk to me over breakfast.
She won’t try to make me watch reality TV shows about brides or house hunters any more, and I won’t try to make her appreciate Syfy channel series.
On the phone with her mother the other day, she said she was headed “home,” but she meant her apartment, not our house. Imagine our confusion.
Seasons change. Addresses change. The definition of “home” changes, too.
But like seasons, everything will come back around one day.