like that, the other eve, index finger reached and pressed the clicker pad: college, applied for.
after all the years and months and weeks. after all the endless dinner conversations about this class or that. this grade or that. this trip to here or there. after endless hours typing essays. after calculating GPAs, weighted and unweighted, it was a click barely audible.
so much transpired in that fraction of a second, the pushing down, the weight of fingerpad against the brushed silver clicker pad of the laptop.
if not for my eyes that misted up on cue, if not for the gallump that might have walloped in my firstborn’s heart, you’d not have known how much had just occurred.
how much of one boy’s life had been condensed into five short essays, a page or two of transcripts, a data sheet of name, address and biographic stripped-down who-when-where.
and so it is in life: we lift a foot and put it down in a whole new chapter, one that measures mere inches away, but in fact is miles and miles from where we started, or where we might have gone.
we say, “i do,” and suddenly we are someone we have never been.
the doctor yells, “push,” and next thing we know we are head over heels in love–not with fuzzy outlines of a dream, but deep dark eyes that pore over us as if they’ve always known us, known us since the dawn of time. how can that be, so new and old at once?
we grab a door handle, and walk into a workplace that will be our daily exercise for years and years to come.
we drive past a house, slow to an idle, open a car door, meander up the walk, and there we are inside the walls and windows that will be the ones we call home till the day we die.
thresholds aren’t such noisy things, don’t come with clanging cymbals or chiming bells.
but in your heart, oh yes, you know you’ve made the crossing.
so it was the other eve.
i could not shake it the whole next day, after my firstborn clicked the college button. nor that night, when my dreams came boldly and jarringly. i kept reading college essays. i recall papers being pulled from my hands. i’d not finished reading but the page was yanked away.
maybe, come to think of it, that’s how a mother feels when she is trying to wrap her head around the notion that her firstborn will soon be going away, for semesters at a time: wait, i’m not done yet. there is more to write, more to read, more to teach and learn. more to love.
i’ve not yet gotten to the point where i worry of all the things i’ve not yet added to his list of i-can-do-its: hospital corner on the bedsheets; ironing a shirt collar without singeing your fingers; getting out of bed without a bucket of water being poured over your sleepy face.
no, i spent the whole day-after simply trying to wrap my head–and the deep-inside part of my soul–around the fact that we now have a kid who has actually applied to college. done. did it.
where’d the years go?
weren’t we just racing out the door, little backpack on his three-year-old shoulders, late to preschool (mere preamble for a life of racing out the door, on the brink of late more often than i care to count)?
what about that little-boy sing-song voice that i still have saved on my phone machine at work, the one from back when he was two, and called my office phone to practice asking what time i might be home (even though i only worked one flight of stairs away)?
and farther back still, where went the endless days when i cringed at 5 o’clock for i knew the crying would begin any minute, the unsettled belly-aching that could only be soothed by running water from the bath, and rocking in my arms till those biceps yelped to drop the load?
i held on. through all of it, i managed to hold on.
and now it’s ancient history.
but not so long ago i can’t remember.
there is, this year, so much rewinding of the skeins of life, flowing back and forth in time. trying to grasp, retrace the years. like a crooked finger put to a map, tracing the route along blue highways, red interstates, how’d we get from here to there?
some of us like roadmaps.
some of us trace and re-trace, sift through grains of hours, minutes, months.
some of us mark time in loops, forward and rewind.
we come to deeper understandings of where we are in time, by circling all around our lives and the lives of the ones we love, to measure and mark just how it is we got here.
it is as if in sifting, re-sifting, i am holding up each blessed frame of the time we have had so far. i am holding it up to the light. i am marveling. i am soaking one last drop.
i am savoring.
i am stunned.
the buttons have been pushed now. one more to go before the waiting starts in full pursuit.
and as the year unspools, i will keep close watch, forward and reverse, circling round and looking top to bottom.
i will live and relive the chapters we have had, so when he leaves, i’ll know i have savored every drop.
the subject of course is turning pages in the book of life. how do you turn yours? do you look back closely over chapters past? or do you flip swiftly through and absorb the page you’re on?
the photo up above is from the moment monday night when the button was pushed and the screen shot back: you have successfully submitted your common application (which is college-talk 2010 for way to go, bub, your letter’s in the mail.)
Barbara this is beautiful and so moving! The sifting, tracing, retracing, savoring and being stunned.In response to your question at the bottom, as you know, this year especially, I have had trouble absorbing the page I’m on… I have been looking so closely at the chapters of the past trying to find clues, signs, answers…Your blog is amazing…
Great blog, BAM. Such exciting times at your house, and you successfully put all those emotions into words. I admire your abilities so much! I’ve turned more than my share of pages the past year. And I tend to attempt to put some events into a type of celebration. Of course, that is also my attempt to avoid the reality and sadness that mark so many times in life. I tend to raise the wine glass in a toast and then retreat to my own space to quietly reflect and weep. Good luck to both you and your son. These are special times! Speaking of celebrating, little angel is now 100 days old. That occasion was marked by finally going back to the hospital where she was born after 88 days away. Doctors are all saying she’ll be home “soon.” There will be many tears of joy, but no weeping when that day comes.
Ah, that computer moment occurred in our house too last week amid whining, stressing out and much complaining. How are 18 years of OUR life going to walk out the door in 9 months? It happens to all of us BAM. My older women friends laugh and even someone at the polls last week said that senior year was meant to get you ready for them leaving. All I know is that the saddest movie to watch right now in this condition is Toy Story 3. I used a whole box of tissues at the end of it. I’m right there with you…..
i have NOT seen toy story III. but my little one told me he cried. i too have heard that line about senior year a million times. and wait for those moments. there’ve been maybe one or two that make me think, “oh this is what they are talking about…..”i KNOW we are not alone. i write it down so some day i can look back and remember. relive it all again, and along the way, hope that some of us realize we are in deep and rich company. JACK, not sure if you mean sweet angel went back to the hospital for a visit, or because there is something amiss with the little angel……i KNOW you have had so many heartbreaking pages this year. and for each and every one, we are aching along with you……..sending a hug for your 100-day-old angel triumphant….