Sunday, October 14, 2012

if the shoe fits

the flightaware tracker shows my daughter has just passed the chesapeake bay on her way north. she'll be back in the city in another hour, reunited with her husband who himself has flown over the pond today from france — and back into the caverns of the skyscrapers they call home.

i have a ritual. i always say prayers for safe travel (both in the air and in the NYC taxi), for her safety on the streets of this city she really does love. and i will never get used to watching her leave home. leave here. home.

when she first met her prince, the pea had a part-time babysitting job that paid her just enough money each month to afford a cheap ticket to the city, where he worked after college. it's a phase i told myself then, as i dropped her off at the airport that summer. but james had all things on her list including some she had never thought ought to be on it. he stayed and so there she went, too, after college. 

six years later, they are still there in their 4th apartment (we really like this one) and it is home to her. a place not just to lay the head down at night, but where she put her first real rug and where she cozies up to the dog at night. every friday they head to Deans for supper, where the wait staff knows their names and their drinks and eats. and where friends keep the dog when they are out of town and where she feels safe enough on a thursday night to leave her apartment at 11:30 p.m.— when her husband has been gone all week to france —and grab a cab at the corner and head to a friend's house and return at 1 in the morning and not worry one thing about her safety.

good thing i didn't know about that until she told me yesterday. i do think her sweet dog was upset for me though. i have grabbed a cab myself at that same corner in the early hours of a monday morning, and it scares me to think of it. but not her. 

i will never get used to this. the parenting of adult children. the fact that every decision they make no longer has my face in it. 

my mother told me when i went to college that she would be looking in the window, so i'd best behave. there were times when i looked out my dorm room window and imagined her face there, looking, judging, but unfortunately it didn't stop me from all that college allowed. but i probably thought about what she said much more often than she imagined i would. (still do). 

i told my kids the same thing. watch out for my face. i think they both turned into the room, though, not looking out so much until we no longer paid the way.

i am no longer looking in the window, though sometimes i wish i could, as they make their own lives. i'm just watching from afar, amazed at what all they do when they share some bit with me. (though i do give the old parental advice, to which they pay little attention. what do i know?)

flightaware now says 'arriving shortly', which means she is circling away from the skyscrapers and out, over the hamptons then back again because everybody else who needs to get into the city from a weekend away is now circling, too. (the husband is making his way (we hope) from a different airport (and a $50 fee) where he will likely be "home" before her and exhausted from a week of eating the world's greatest food.

home again. home.

my husband and i went to a wedding yesterday, that of a neighborhood beauty who married a boy she had known since kindergarten — though they had both traveled and seen the world and dated other people until they reconnected a few years ago.

at the celebration, i talked with a neighbor whose daughter was at first birthday party i remember giving the pea in the neighborhood. amanda lives in san francisco, has a great job, is thinking of moving to hawaii or south africa or whoknowswhere...wherever the job takes her. 

as mothers, we talked about what we loved about our girls. and about the fact that the very thing we raised them to be  — independent — at times breaks our hearts because they are doing the very thing we wished they would. leave home. see the world. be who we couldn't be in our own time.

+++++

i sit now at the kitchen table where i raised my pea to be the girl who was always wanting to see more. i look at the flowers i bought for the table because she was coming, think more than once about how i probably shouldn't have done my job so well, that if i had faltered, she might want to be closer to me.

++++++

on friday, i took her to a store i'd visited a week before alone, to get her opinion on a dress i thought didn't look awful on me. ('you need spanx' she said, and i was wearing them already but WHATEVER!) 

she would have been honest with me and said no, mom. don't. but she didn't.

and this morning after church i donned another dress i'd bought weeks ago, asking for her approval, once again. as i modeled, i caught the face of my mother, not looking in the window, but looking at me, for the same validation not that long ago. does this look okay? do i have the right shoes? 

there are some shoes only a daughter can fill.

++++

there was no special reason for the pea coming home. just every now and then she wants to, and we help make that happen.
every now and then, all she wants to do is be here. sleep in her bed, scratch the dog's nose. shop with me. sit at the breakfast table. and that keeps me. for a good while.

i cooked. she did laundry. we broke bread with her brother. she saw her godmother and two great high school friends. she shared a breakfast biscuit and coffee with her dad. we visited a parade home (which she will have to explain to her northern friends) that had a closet bigger than her living room. which we laughed about. we talked fabric and whether or not we could live with that particular color of gray on the walls. 

that's a mighty big closet!
and our little family of four went to church, and i marveled that she remembered at least some of the liturgy. 

and the only picture i took with her in it she is barely even in.

when we parted ways this afternoon, i didn't cry. we will see her again in a week at a wedding, and then again in three in the city, when the husband runs the marathon! (i refuse to call it her home.)

landed finally, she has no doubt walked the dog and reunited with the husband and gotten her gift from france, and tried on her new boots, bought at home. 

and i miss her deeply.

those of us tethered to the South i think, know you live places but you are always from somewhere and that place is always called home.



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