pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Change my life again

13 June 2015

Change my life again


New Orleans, Louisiana
22 May 2015

Friday morning, the morning after the daughter's graduation, I got an email from one her counselors.  "Preparing for empty nest syndrome," it read.

I sent the son off to university three years ago, which has been fine most of the time. Yes, I worried when he was locked in his dorm during Hurricane Sandy. Yes, I worry when he is stressed or ill, but so far, things have mostly gone well.

I was preparing for an empty nest as the daughter's college acceptances started to roll in. In fact, I was already highly involved in my own personal happy dance--travel! Piano lessons! Deferred maintenance on my house! Move to Ireland!--when she announced that she'd decided on the college closest to home.

So I adjusted my expectations slightly to include the idea that I'd probably be in Orange County for another 4 years. Not my idea of a great time, but after 17 years...

(I was horrified to realize that I now have lived in Orange County longer than I have lived anywhere in my entire life. I still feel like a stranger here. I always will be a stranger here.)

Like me, the daughter is practical, and it's practical to save $15,000 a year on one's college education by living at home. I can't fault her on this and I don't. In fact, I will rather enjoy having her around. It's the state-enforced bondage from K-12 that drove me berserk. I always rather liked my children.

And it's possible to take piano lessons in the OC.

She asked me tonight if I would go back to work. I know that she is rather concerned about what I will do next. I think she is afraid I will miss her. I think she is afraid I will abandon her. Her perspective on her growing up is, of necessity, different from mine, and she doesn't understand yet that this is a process. That I have been pushing her out the door, letting her run out the door and missing her for 17 years, and college is just another step in that process. I've told her that while it's unlikely I will walk her to the door of her first college class, I am not averse to meeting her for coffee on campus periodically if she'd like to.

Will I go back to work? I don't know, I told her. Maybe I'll write short stories all day. Or take photos every Wednesday. Someone will still have to cook, grocery shop, do laundry and clean. It may not be me. I need to find a surgeon who is committed to putting me back together again before it's too late. All this remains to be seen. I am open to possibilities.

I haven't yet found it in my heart to be sad about any of this. I've watched the son become very aware of how precious and unique his family is as he's lived away from us for years now. Perfect parent? Hell, no. I've made plenty of errors including, I'm sure, the ones I don't even see. But we all survived. I think they'll do okay.

Empty nest syndrome? I've always maintained some semblance of a life of my own (see also Week in Texas and Louisiana), and I'm really ready to make that my full time job.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

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