This train is moving along so fast, bouncing my thoughts from here to there. In case, you don’t recognize it, the train is a metaphor for my life. The Cowboy Junkies “I’m so lonesome I could cry” blares in my I pod. The I pod Jordan had to teach me how to use. Once again, another metaphor… Jordan has been the one to teach me many things. And not just the easy stuff. She taught me how to grow up; how to be selfless; how to dream big. I get up to walk around on the train, and just like my life, if I don’t hold on, I lose my balance and fall flat on my face. The landscape outside moves by so quickly, if I try too hard to keep up and watch each tree pass, I get dizzy. I force myself to look away from time to time.
Perhaps because I am an introspective person by nature or very possibly the fact that I am preparing to send my dearest, oldest daughter away to college, I use this quiet time to imagine what it will be like to actually take this trip again in a few months and come home empty handed. What will it be like to actually leave her in Chicago? What will it be like to not have her crawling in our bed to watch Grey’s Anatomy? How will I feel to know that she’s gone?
As we travel to Chicago this week, I realize we are as close as we’ve ever been. I say that now, just as I always said that whatever age my children were was my “favorite.” I also realize that as we go for our college visit at the University of Chicago, that most likely after this summer, my daughter and I will probably never reside in the same city. I feel like I should feel more somber; more sadness. It scares me that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown over this. What I feel at this moment is overwhelming happiness, excitement and joy for her. Perhaps there is a small amount of melancholy mixed in.
I know that I will miss her. But I think I'll be OK.
We made it to the University of Chicago via mass transit and after a few mishaps with a map, made it to the newly admitted students orientation and had a very successful day. Luckily, we had been to the University a couple of times before, so we somewhat knew our way around. Jordan seemed a little apprehensive from the beginning. Nervous. Who wouldn’t be? I was nervous for her. But I was OK. She was OK.
At the end of the day, when it was time for the parents to leave, I got up to leave… and kept looking back at her. She never looked back. I kept walking. In a daze. I walked out of the building to go on the parents tour. This was probably the best thing the University could have done; keep all the students in the room to hook them up with their sponsor and get them to their dorm. The parents, on the other hand, get on a bus and are wisked away for a tour of Hyde Park and Chicago. Once again, I was fine. When I sat on the bus and realized that in a few months, I will be getting on a bus and leaving her there, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I looked around to see if any other parents looked like they were fighting back tears. They all looked thrilled. I didn’t see a wet eye in the bunch. I make myself straighten up. I will myself not to cry.
Then I remember when Jordan and I moved to Lubbock, Texas, by ourselves when she was three. I was starting a new job. She was starting a new daycare. I remember every detail of the day. How she cried and hung on my leg… “Don’t leave me.” “Mommy please, don’t leave me.” I left her with both of us in tears. I cried all the way to work. I’m sure she was fine.
She was fine then, just as I’m sure she is fine tonight. I sat on the bus, texting my friends, trying to get my mind off of what my future of leaving her will be like. I am still fighting back the tears.
And so, my night, the night I was so anticipating being all about me… the night with no children… no responsibilities… involved me shopping for my kids and going to a bookstore that I’m sure Jordan would have loved. We would have spent hours looking at all the titles, browsing, showing each other books. And then I bought a big piece of chocolate and headed back to the hotel to eat my feelings.
Once again, the Cowboy Junkies whisper in my ear, "I'm so lonesome, I could die..."
I made my way to the southside of Chicago lugging not only my own luggage, computer bag, purse, camera bag, shopping bags from the previous night, but Jordan’s backpack as well. I was met by a nearly radiant Jordan, who stated, “I love this place. I stayed in the dorm. I made friends. I sat in on a class, which we had outside under a tree…..” And the list went on and on. If I heard, “I don’t want to leave here… ever…” once, I heard it a thousand times. I met some of the kids already going to school here. They were just like her. They were quirky. They were smart. They were different. They were University of Chicago students. And now, she was one of them.
We left Chicago both feeling good about our adventures. We left knowing 100% that is the place for her. We left knowing that she is supposed to be there. We left knowing that we will soon be back. And I left knowing that the next time, I’ll be going home without her. I have approximately 5 months to get used to that fact. I think I’ll be OK. I plan on taking her on a big shopping spree right before freshman orientation… that will for sure make me want to leave her there.... shopping with her always makes me want to leave her somewhere...