Nests empty during bittersweet transitionAll of the telltale signs are there. A pile of folded jeans and T-shirts and socks in one living-room chair. Sheets and shorts in another. In his room, boxes are packed with soap and shampoo and Kleenex.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
All of the telltale signs are there. A pile of folded jeans and T-shirts and socks in one living-room chair. Sheets and shorts in another. In his room, boxes are packed with soap and shampoo and Kleenex.
He’s headed back for college, and I’m trying to prepare myself for the transition.
Essentially, he’s already gone. He and his skiing teammates are off at Giants Ridge at a preseason ski camp. He’ll do a one-day touch-and go here at home, and then we’ll make The Drive.
We have gone through this one year already, so we are accustomed to the drill. We know how to assemble the futon. We’ll probably remember the crescent wrench and the pliers. There is no new computer to buy.
We are not alone, of course. This is happening in thousands of homes across town, across the country. And even in homes where nobody is headed to college, parents and kids are sliding into the fall transition to new jeans, new teachers, new three-ring binders.
It’s bittersweet, this fall transition. You are excited for your kids, venturing off into new worlds near or semi-far. You wonder how they will do, what stories they will bring home. All you can do is shove them over the lip of the nest and let them fly.
I do not worry. Our bird has been ready to go back to college for a month or so. Ready to be with last year’s newfound friends and live the sweet campus life. But he likes it at home, too, and it has been a good summer.
I’ll miss our days together in the canoe country and on Wisconsin’s Brule River. I’ll miss seeing him glide past the picture window as he returns from a morning run. I’ll even miss the crusty running socks he leaves on the radiators to dry.
I’ll miss our discussions of the books he read this summer and stories at the supper table from his days at work in the tourist trade. I’ll miss the quick conversations we had car-pooling to and from work.
In a couple of days, we’ll load the boxes and the bike and the skis in the van and roll southwest. I can tell you already where the transition will begin. It will happen as soon as he sees his roommate or one of his skiing buddies. They will immediately be caught up in the anticipation of being together again.
My wife and I will keep shuttling boxes until the van is empty. He’ll have the computer wired by then and clothes hung in his closet. We’ll set up the futon.
And that will be it.
Then it will be just a matter of the final hugs and his mom’s appeal for a phone call or two a week — minimum. Then he’ll walk us to the car, past all of the other parents and college kids hauling their bikes and boxes to the dorms.
We’ll get in the car and drive past long fields of corn and soybeans. We’ll be two again, the way it was all those years ago in the beginning.
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.