on crossing out of strange lands


I may write about her a wee bit on occasion, but showing her face is still a different matter.

I may write about her a wee bit on occasion, but showing her face is still a different matter.

Kiddo has been home for a little over six weeks now, and it’s begun to feel normal, which is wonderful and also strange. We’re a year into this college thing now, and it seems designed to keep everyone slightly off- kilter, which is not as unpleasant as that might sound. When she first left it was so disconcerting; there was a her- shaped hole in our lives, and we kept everything almost precisely the same for a time, just waiting to see how things felt before we made any changes. Later, we began to shift things around in our own lives— carefully moving our routines, seeing how things felt, trying on new habits and then throwing everything out and starting again from scratch. 

As soon as we started to feel somewhat settled with our new roles, she was home for Winter Break, which was gloriously long— about five weeks of family time. We nested and settled into our old familiar family patterns— wonderful, comforting, and absolutely bizarre, of course, as she’d just begun getting used to college, and we’d just begun getting used to life without her at home. She left again, and we got into the work of building a life with her at a small remove in a more serious way. We watched Hannibal  on Fridays and Walking Dead each Sunday together via frantic allcaps texts and meme wars. We found our own routines, over time, and it worked. 

The rearrangement when she comes home for the summer, that’s been odd; I hadn’t realized how quickly Sam and I became accustomed to this new way of living, and suddenly the house seems so much more full, so much brighter with her in it. We wake before she does, at 6 am (because we are old people who wake with the sun, as she likes to remind us) and the house seems quiet and a little too large, which is a funny thing to say about less than 1500 sq feet of house, but it’s true, too. It feels as though we are living two different lives; our quietly happy, just- the- two- of- us life, and a boisterous, joyfully laughing, all- three- of- us life, too. 

She is spending half- a- week house- sitting for a friend of ours, caring for cats and playing house with her boyfriend, which leaves us again playing Empty- Nesters. We quietly putter about, fail to remember how to cook for two, make up voices for our animals— oh, we’re those people, I’m not ashamed— and marvel again at the way our lives seem split in two. I like it, the unexpected switching- up of everything, the way I anticipate her arrivals, and of course we all know that in just a few years this will end, so there’s a preciousness to this, too; it’s like a weaning period, a titration. It’s good to have this period of adjustments, on both sides. 

The entire process of separation is a tricky one; we carefully look for the areas in which we’ve failed and try to correct now, and it’s bittersweet on all sides, because we all know what’s happening, of course. She’s working through some physical therapy for a hip/knee issue, nothing major but an uncomfortable inconvenience, and when I realized that she didn’t know exactly how to call in a doctor’s referral, I asked her to listen in while I made the call so that she could learn how to do this for herself in the future. It isn’t a big or difficult thing to do, but we’d never done this before— a total failing on our part. Managing insurance and getting the best care you can find, especially in a larger metropolis, that can be tricky. There are specific questions to be asked: is there public transport at this location, does this specialist actually specialize in my exact condition, what is the patient load like lately, how hard is it to secure follow- on appointments? Agh, I should have been all over this two years ago, damnit. 

In doing these things, we’re all conscious of this undercurrent of training: we are making sure you’re really ready, Kiddo. These are our Last Few Important Things. It isn’t a cut- off, by any means, but there are some Big Deal Lessons that we want to be sure we haven’t missed- the things that we felt stumped by when we were finally on our own, the things that the military either held our hands on or beat into our heads. It emphasizes the inevitable, though, and that’s painful, too. All three of us rebel a little over it at times. Separation isn’t as simple as it seems it should be, even when you know it isn’t forever. More of all that change business, I’m guessing— change being so good sometimes, keeping us flexible and pliant and mobile, and also afraid, and clinging, and worried about the future. 

I try not to write too much about Kiddo these days— it seems a little invasive, her being an adult now— but these relationship and how they evolve- and our family and how it has changed- these things are so key lately. This has been a source of endless fascination over the last year; it just keeps transforming- something relationships are always doing, of course, but lately with such breathtaking speed. She comes home from college with the smell of New England in her hair and full of so many new ideas and so much news and our lives are suddenly so full of her, her, and mostly only her. I mean, we’re doing other things, living our lives, working and knitting and dogs and friends and museums and concerts and books and all our normal middle- aged fun stuff, but mostly it’s just her. It’ll be interesting to see how these transitions work out over time. 

Change, as the theme of this year, is both frightening and fascinating; I’m much more into the idea of transformation over a gradual period, but life has its own way. This part— this piece of change, and how it’s happening to the three of us— I’m enjoying very much. I’d been so worried over it a year ago, having no frame of reference, and I still fret at times, because the unknown can be a worrisome place, but it seems surer now. We have language for what this looks like, which mistakes we make, how we correct; we have procedures and in-jokes and our-places. This isn’t Terra Incognita anymore. 


  One thought on “on crossing out of strange lands

  1. July 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thank you so much! It’s an honor.

  2. July 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    I’m glad you are writing about this period of time. I wish I had had a role model for dealing with young adult children. You are right, we have endless opportunities to teach what we missed…and they often listen!

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:25 am

      I definitely feel what you’ve said here; my husband and I don’t have any real model for handling this situation, either, which makes it both scary and exhilarating. We’re making it up as we go: it’s fully ours to create, which is exciting, but it’s also ours to wreck, which is frightening, too. We’re doing the best we can, going at it mindfully and joyfully, and isn’t that the best any family can do? You do what you can, and hope to make all new mistakes. 🙂

  3. July 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    This is really beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:26 am

      Thank you so much! ❤

  4. atv333
    July 22, 2014 at 12:52 am


  5. July 22, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Change as they say is the ‘Law of nature’; every single this is subjected to change and this is the way life goes! But it is always fantastic if the change tend to happen in terms of growth. It is happily accepted 🙂 You are lucky, god bless!

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Thank you! Change is always a bit intimidating, but we’re looking at it as a good thing, too- this is the whole point of it all, right? Even if we aren’t always huge fans of it all. 🙂

  6. July 22, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Its very interesting to read about your experiences and feelings; I have recently left my family, friends and the rest behind in England to study tea in India. Its a great adventure but there are several loved-one shaped holes in my life too. Thanks for sharing!

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Oh, India- how exciting! How long have you been away? I can only imagine the holes in your life right now, but how many new connections you must be making, too!

      • July 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        Oh yes, very exciting! I’ve been here just over 1 month now, I’m reasonably settled in. I speak to my other half every day, but its not the same of course. However you are right, I am making some wonderful connection here. Just this afternoon I visited a local tea estate’s office to meet the main man, and was treated to an extensive tea tasting session. So rough with the smooth and all that 🙂

  7. July 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    A beautiful piece, that brought us both (parents of early 20-somethings) to tears!

    • July 28, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Thank you so much, Dan. It’s such a conflicting time, isn’t it? Beautiful and heartbreaking and heart- swelling and bittersweet, all at once. I’m so into it, and yet still. ❤

  8. July 24, 2014 at 3:35 am

    Lovely post!

  9. July 30, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Beautifully written about this transitional time in life.

  10. July 31, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    this is beautiful; thank you!

  11. September 4, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I like this post so much. Thank you for sharing. I’m also love my parents who give me a birth and love.

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