A soft Sunday afternoon, the gentle breeze and blue-white sky welcome relief from days upon days of scorching July heat, and I sit on my front porch and watch my two boys tossing the baseball back and forth. It feels like just the right place to be. My eyes follow the ball almost involuntarily as it travels between the two mitts…sometimes sailing high overhead, other times bouncing and skipping across parched grass, some throws lazy and looping, some hard and fast…slapping into the worn leather. My two sons, separated by the width of our lot, separated by thirteen years, soon to be separated – again – by miles and miles of highway.
It is moving day. The red 1995 Isuzu Rodeo is packed with clothing, electronics, golf clubs and Gatorade, the stuff of survival for the first few weeks of a new life in a new state, new job, and corporate housing. The detritus of a young man’s life remains here, divided into two rooms, until the movers arrive several weeks hence to load it up and deliver it to a newly-leased apartment. A great apartment for a Guy Who is Going Places…a spacious apartment with A/C, mini-balcony, wooded view, pool and fitness center access…and a dishwasher! He is so excited about moving there, five hours away. Only five hours. Five whole hours. But we’re not thinking about that right now. Nope, we’re playing catch.
Okay, one last toss, one last catch. One last hug. Oh, and Mom’s one last run through The List: did you pack this? Do you have that? Do you need one of these?
“Enough postponing the inevitable,” I hear muttered under his breath. Does he still think that mothers can’t hear what their children mutter under their breath? I know what he is feeling. I know what he is thinking. I know that maelstrom storming his brain, coursing through his veins – the twin forces of independence and dependence battling it out inside of him. The first step of his life as a Grownup, the last step of his life as a Child is that step up into the old red Isuzu Rodeo laden with clothing, electronics, golf clubs and Gatorade: close the door, shift into reverse and – “wait!” Yes, he grabbed his mitt. Lowering his head to wipe watery eyes clear for the long drive ahead, he eases up on the clutch, gently accelerates and pulls out into the street. Depress the clutch and shift into forward gear – first gear, then second, later third, fourth and fifth. Forward. And don’t look back, honey. It’s forward from now on.
I’ll do the looking back for both of us.