The Teenager is home for Spring Break. And I feel so relieved to have her here. With her being at school, in another city, the space she occupies, just a few feet away, is a museum piece, standing still ala the last time she was here. Our “home” is a relatively new location, it’s still a place she visits, the apartment her Mom relocated to once the home she grew up in, was familiar with, became unaffordable. Within a day of her return, however, her bedroom is under her rule: her luggage emptied, clothing everywhere, her particular touches imprinted. It’s comforting for me, of course. Of course it is. Her initial departure to college was a sigh of relief: months of preparation leading up to this one event, going to school. Weeks of placing her clothes in specifically labelled garbage bags, the careful calculation of the yearly stipend, the nights laying awake going through the mental checklist of what else was needed for her dorm room—that unknown entity of whom she would be living with, what the roommate would bring to the shared space, like that. All these thought bubbles forever on your shoulder, the what, what, what. All of it reconciled upon moving her in (oh! the sheer delight upon discovering she would be living in a suite with other women her age, but that she, The Teenager, would be living in a single, a room of her own!). Those stresses seem so long ago; it makes sense to me that when I got home from dropping her off, I wasn’t overwhelmed with emptiness, I simply got to dealing with the next hurdle, the impending move downtown, which came on the heels of moving her to school. Immediately, my days and nights were filled with collecting boxes, emptying cupboards, shlepping to Housing Works. When I’d crawl into bed at night, after I’d walked Rocky, I had no energy to feel alone, I had no space in my exhausted brain to think, I was spent. The timing one the back-to-back moves helped me cope with what was the obvious gap in my life, my child now living apart from me.
It wasn’t until she returned to school after she’d been home for Thanksgiving break that the shift occurred, from my finding my footing (and also unpacking my life, its belongings) to feeling the empty space. It was those weeks in December that were the most difficult for me, the growing pains of finding my way into this phase of my adult life. Not simply finding someone to have dinner or breakfast with; it was finding the silence in my home, this phase of utter quiet, that I’ve lost the memory of, that I once numbed away with nonsense. I don’t numb the pain anymore, there’s no bandwith for continued loss of brain cells. The irony of raising children is the defiant clinging with we have, when we first have our babies, to the life before our babies disrupted our sleep, crawled into our beds, kissed us with open mouths. Oh, how we waxed poetic about being able to do this or that, reclaim the career, even the simple act of getting coffee with a friend, how romantic all of that seemed, how unattainable as well it seemed. How hard we fall in love with being a MOM, how confusing that hard fall was, what me, I’ve become this woman? I did become that woman, letting things slip away, in order to make room for this baby of mine, this person who I was determined not only to raise, but to protect and nourish and love, oh love so unconditionally. The shift for me was seamless, the things that faded into the background are part of the fabric of nostalgia. And so, 18 years later, the way I shifted the focus of my life, so completely being an engine of deliberation, allows that I can feel so lonely some nights with her being at school. She is not simply a roommate, she is my child. And her being home, this new home that I’m building? It’s a paradise for me.
Wendy Williams: “I didn’t know what to expect when I hit the block today. I didn’t know if you would wait for me, whether you would understand. I had no idea what to expect. Thank you so much for waiting for us.”
Hoda Kotb: “Don’t hit snooze. Don’t do it. You wanna do it, you think that ten more minutes is gonna be great. It’s never good. Once you hit snooze, your day is no bueno, because you’re already behind.”
On being Older, on how we disappear.
You can, in fact, cobble a meal from the snacks you find at work.
Can you make “new” friends after fifty?
I follow Jenna Jameson on Instagram. I identify with her, the challenging embrace of her approach to aging, to her body, to her own happiness. Bravo.
And now have a laugh with Mia Jackson.