The third Saturday of August begins like any other. Drinking coffee from the deli around the corner as I look out over the southern tip of Manhattan from our new apartment perched on the 24th floor, skies blue, gangs of kayakers and paddle boarders chopping through the waters of the East River.
Each day I make pronouncements on the weather. It’s clear today [thank you Captain Obvious]. Each day I watch the traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge and FDR Drive, happy I’m not in one of those vehicles swearing at the jerk in front of me. Each day I follow the sea planes and tug boats and barges. Each day I say to myself, in awe and with deep satisfaction, I live in New York City. I am obnoxiously content.
Only this third Saturday of August is different. The lovely scenery and satisfaction aside, it is one of those “lasts” I’ve faced nearly continuously over the past few months.
On this third Saturday of August the girl goes to college. The Great Leaving Redux. But this time, she alone is doing the going.
Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking about the language we use around sending our kids off to college. So much of it is doom and gloom, painful and jarring, with a finality that leaves little room for the joy and anticipation that surely must lurk in there somewhere. Even using the word leave to describe it screams abandonment [she’s leaving me!]. It rhymes with cleave, so I’ve got images of flesh tearing away from the bone, like something whole being unnaturally, perhaps irreparably, separated. It’s gruesome – and entirely unfair to everyone involved to see it through this lens.
Because we’re not whole, she and I.
We’ve been sovereign, glorious, complex creatures since July 16, 1998 at 10:20 pm. In ways both deliberate and intuitive, I’ve been preparing the way for this third Saturday of August since that first threshold was breached. Our connection noteworthy, our selves unmistakably our own. This past year has illuminated that connection like never before, especially the last month we spent sans big guy trudging around Paris, Amsterdam, England and Scotland. It’s easy and we’re exceptionally good at it. But the year also gave me a front row seat at the “how Grace processes and connects to the world” show. It’s peppered with wit, awe, irreverence, kindness, quiet certainty, discipline, written words, friendship and lots of healthy whole foods. I’m a big fan [cue Captain Obvious theme song].
And so this third Saturday of August marks the final stop of The Great Leaving. The threshold is crossed, the door closes behind us.
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T.S. Eliot
We have come full circle and arrive where we started: tethered by love, grounded in the beauty of right now, ever lured by the curiosity of what we can create [or destroy] next.
Go my girl and keep creating a wonderful life.