Over the past few months, I've watched friends prepare to send their children off to college with a mixture of admiration and relief. I admire their ability to focus on the positive aspects of the situation—look at all the interesting new people she'll meet! An experience of another way of life, in another part of the country (or world)!—and am filled with relief that it isn't me, at least, not yet.
Then, a few nights ago, Ben told me that his band has been invited to tour the Northeast, from Toronto to Washington, DC, over the holiday break. They will travel on the cheap, sleeping in hostels and eating ramen noodles, and just break even, if that, but it will be wonderful exposure and a great experience of life on the road.
"That's terrific," I told him, and meant it. And swallowed hard.
We have never spent the holidays apart. Even when it looked like he would be going away to college, I didn't imagine that he wouldn't be home—or away—with us for Christmas. I have been practicing, visualizing a peaceful day, either celebrating with friends or going to a movie with Bill. I know it will be fine, but it is another marker of time passing, of increasing separation, that I wasn't quite ready for.
It might not come off, he reminded me. "Half the time these complicated plans fall through; there are just too many variables."
I told him, sincerely, that I hope this one doesn't; that I want him to have this experience. And I do. But I wish someone would hurry up and invent a time machine.