First, she went away to Ithaca College. Then, when grad school called, she moved all the way out to Phoenix and decided to stay there. Now there is a new crisis that is taking her out of the country.
I spent about a day freaking out about it, with everything I had ever heard about how dangerous it is in certain parts of Mexico replaying in my head. I was frustrated with the way she keeps standing on the verge of doing amazingly wonderful things and how she keeps finding reasons to walk away from those wonderful things. I was baffled by how she would walk away from a life that she had just told me, not a month ago, was too important to her for her to leave, and how much more difficult it was going to be for her and her significant other to do this rather than for her to just stay where she is and wait for him.
And then I calmed down. I got some more details from her. I realized that she wasn’t going off half-cocked after all. I understood that she was getting good information from his family and they weren’t going to let her walk into a situation where she was going to get killed — or worse — south of the border. And I gave a nod to the fact that she’s not twelve anymore, hasn’t been for some time.
And I faced up to the fact that my initial reaction had been significantly prompted by my fear that she was going somewhere where I was never going to see or hear from her again. She, of course, thought that was absurd and said so. But I, of course, don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. This whole thing is so sudden that, from where I sit, she could equally suddenly decide she likes it down there and wants to stay forever. It’s been a year since the last time I saw her; I hope I’ll be able to visit her where she’ll be but I might not be able to. And then, even if she really does decide to come back to the US, for awhile she’s going to be gone. Really gone.
Will I see her again? Will I ever get to sing with her again? Will I at least be able to talk to her? I used to talk to her every day. I got kind of spoiled; looking at it objectively, this is probably a good way to wean me a little further away from her. That is something that I now recognize needs to happen.
Because it’s not just Gina.
Kimmie — who once used to tell me that she was never leaving me, that if and when she moved out, she would only do so if she could live next door — has moved out of my house to live with her significant other. She comes over for a few days every couple of weeks and I enjoy those times greatly. Eventually, though, that’s going to stop because eventually I’m moving south and there will be several states between us.
Ricky is pretty far away from moving out of my house at this point. He’s only 17, just poised to graduate from high school in June. But he’s got himself a new girlfriend that he seems truly enamored of and even that reasonably normal event has caused him to suck into himself away from us and spend every waking moment Skype-chatting with her … well, when he’s not trick-jumping in one of his favorite online games. What I’m getting at is that Ricky is moving away from me, too. He is growing up.
I have never done anything that constituted a serious attempt to convince any of my children that they shouldn’t leave me and I have never really run their lives, even when they were young enough that some people might say I should have been. It has always been important to me that they grow into independence, however difficult that might have seemed for some of them. And I guess I should congratulate myself on my success. They are independent, even the ones who still live here. I am proud of them. This is as it should be.
But it’s lonely.
I don’t mean to whine. I have friends, lots of them, who love me and whom I love. But, of course, nobody in my world is as close to me as my kids are, partly because they are my kids and partly because they were with me when I was going through the crucible. We made that rather horrific journey together and we were still together when we came out the other side of it.
And now that they are better and I am, too … they are leaving. Like they’re supposed to.
I guess this is what they call Empty Nest Syndrome.
Some days I feel it more than others. Most of the time, I’m busy. There are things I am taking care of right now, things I want to put into place so that I leave this community better than I found it when I’m ready to move on. I have plans and things I want to work on and things I want to do. I have a lot of time left and I want to fill it with cool or interesting or fun stuff.
And then there are those other times.
Today is my birthday. And for some reason, more than anything there might be to celebrate, the only thing I am conscious of right now is that I was born alone and I will die alone. It’s not what I would call a happy thought but at least it’s honest.
Bon voyage, Gina.
As for Gina’s siblings — not to worry. I will let you go when the time comes. Whether I want to or not. That’s my job.
Meanwhile, I will enjoy you while you’re here.