“Okay, it’s time to go.”
I can already hear it, see the genuine smile, and feel the awkward off-angle men’s hug that will come with it. “Okay, time to go.”
in the first eighteen years it was normally me that had to go. Rushing around packing papers, warm coats, and cameras for Japan, or Chicago, Europe, China, or Australia. I’d always bring something home, like a toy kangaroo or jet model with real engine noise. “Someday I will take you with me.” I’d say.
And I would make good on that promise. As he got older I did take him to hike among the temples of Japan, to sleep under the stars of the outback, and with his cousin my nephew to walk the great wall of China.
The latest trip was to Europe, included my nephew, and this time it excluded me. The boy’s trip had become just the boys. Even so we tried to get them to plan their routes, where they would stay, as I normally planned for us. They planned nothing. But we realized they can’t plan. Why plan if don’t know the destination, or the outcome? Why not just be open to all the possibilities?
The college move to Connecticut loomed over all of us over the summer. We busy ourselves with check lists, shipping plans, practical worries like who will bring the microwave. I wonder what we will do with the huge HO train set in the garage, or the shelves filled with Lego models in his room. And what of these large plastic bins, with the debris of growing up unsorted in them. They hold lego parts, pencils, crayons, happy meal creatures, old game controllers, reflective stickers, taped together cars, and fragments of computer cables from various eras of technology. Toss them out, bin and all? Sort them out by type, try to re-assemble kits or like items?
Good-byes are one sided because usually someone is leaving and someone is staying behind. The one staying behind has the greater responsibility. To encourage the other toward the journey, toward discovery, into the unknown, and not try to hold on selfishly.
Connecticut per se is not a bad destination. A brief six-hour flight, we can be there in a day. But I think that little good bye will be no less difficult. Actually I want him to make the journey as much as he wants to go. I will try to remember that when the moment comes. Everything from Target has been bought, the sheets and towels are there. Plenty of sports bars, water, the desk lamp works. Give the little hug, not much, and get moving. His new journey is beginning. The outcome is uncertain. Step back and let it happen. Then get ready to hear it.
“Thanks Dad, thanks Mom. Okay, time to go.”