Sunday, August 21, 2011

Look at Her Go! She's Really Fast!

The day had finally arrived. Ellie was leaving for college. I'd lamented this moment - the moment of my abandonment - for an entire year. And now it was time to say goodbye - to finally kick a kid out of the nest.

And she was ready to fly.

We took photos of everyone hugging her goodbye.  Here she is with her good friend Hannah - who stayed behind to man the fort with my other kids, which was no small or easy task.  Joel is in the background trying to make a stupid face because he likes to ruin landmark family pictures.

And here she is with The Boyfriend and she looks like she might cry but really she's trying not to laugh because I'm fussing at her dad who is in the background making a stupid face because he likes to ruin landmark family pictures.

And here she is with Camille, the most enthusiastic sender-offer.  Camille is going to miss her sister.  I had to take 3 pics to get one of Ellie with her eyes open.  She was wincing in the other two.  People often wince around Camille.  It is a protective measure as she is rarely still and usually hopping and jumping and screeching and occasionally she'll accidentally get you with a knee or elbow or even the top of her head when you bend over to kiss her and she picks that moment to JUMP (!).

And here she is with The Joels.  I won't go into how she and Joel were the best of friends, how they used to sleep in the top bunk together because it was their pirate ship, or the bathtub tea parties, or the forts and hideaways and endless lining up of the matchbox cars....I won't go into that or I might start crying.  

Jasper refused to pose for a picture. Ellie tried to explain to him that she was leaving. She said I'M NEVER COMING BACK TO LIVE HERE EVER EVER AGAIN. Jasper just shrugged, but I fell completely apart.

We arrived at the college town, and checked into a hotel. We went to dinner, went to a movie, and then Ellie stayed with us that first night. The next morning she'd check into her dorm.

I don't tend to sleep well in hotels, and this night was no exception. I dreamed a lot. I dreamed I'd given birth to a perfect baby.  She was all adorable and the word perfect kept coming up again and again when people looked at her and I was all impressed with myself for having had such a perfect baby.  Then I left her in a parking lot.  It was an accident, of course, and upon realizing my mistake I rushed back to the parking lot hysterically.....shouting to everyone, "Have you seen my perfect baby?  Remember the one?  You were all so impressed with her and I drove off and left her in the parking lot!"

They pointed to the dark scary woods and said they thought they'd seen her head off that way.  They acted as if this were the most natural thing in the world and weren't concerned about it in the slightest.  I took off for the dark scary woods. "Where's my baby?" I screamed repeatedly.  Finally, I saw something disappear around a tree trunk.

Other people were around, calmly commenting that they'd also seen her disappear around the tree trunk.  "Look at her go!" they said in very pleased tones.

"What?  Where?" I asked.  I looked but could see only darkness.  I took off running.  Finally, I came to a little red fox sitting peacefully licking its paws.

"There she is," said a man, pointing at the fox.

"What?  That's not my perfect baby!" I said.  "That's a FOX!"

The fox walked right up to me and I thought I saw a little smug glint in its eye.  It looked vaguely familiar.

I picked it up, and it started struggling to get away.

"Really?"  I said. "This is my perfect baby?  How did this happen?  She's turned into something else entirely and all I did was leave her momentarily in the parking lot when I got all busy doing other things..."

"Yeah.  They do that," the man said.  "She's a cute little fox.  You should be quite proud."

The little fox wriggled free from my grasp and jumped down.  She took off in a blurry flash....bushy little tail disappearing through the woods.

"Look at her go!" he said. "She's really fast!"

The next couple of days were spent shopping for last minute dorm items and taking care of things like registering, textbooks, obtaining studio keys, dropping one class and picking up a harpsichord class...figuring out how to gain access to the scholarship to use the meal plan.  She loved all of it (except orientation which she deemed a complete waste of her time).  She familiarized herself with the Steinways in the practice rooms.  She ditched us and our hotel room and spent her first night in the dorm. She woke the next morning to the sound of a lone tuba...the second morning it was drums.  She was home.

"Hey, can you drop me off at the practice rooms on your way out of here?" she asked. On your way out of please.

"Sure," we said.  Like we were leaving anyway.

When we got in front of the practice building there was a line of cars behind us. She couldn't get the van door open - it has a tendency to stick. She struggled while horns honked and Jeff fussed. I sat quietly, listening to the last echo of Normal.

When she finally managed to extricate herself from the vehicle, she sighed and stomped off down the sidewalk.  She didn't look back. The last thing I heard her say was crap.

As we pulled away to head home without my firstborn, I turned to look out the window, just as she disappeared around the corner of the building.

Look at her go....that was really fast.


  1. Perfect Carol. Thanks for sharing. I needed to read this today...and I LOVE the dream.

  2. Boy, your dreams sure do have signficance sometimes! That's crazy. If you made UP that dream, you couldn't have had a more significant dream. Dude. Thanks for sharing...very sweet. I hope Ellie has a wonderful, wonderful semester!

  3. Yeah, okay, that was just brilliant. Wow, to that dream. And the last bit, which was kind of a lot heart wrenching and beautiful. Thank you, Carol.

    (And look, a photo of Jeff and Ellie with no silly face involved! MORE heartwrench. More beautiful. )

  4. You're killing me with this.
    You do know that I can see right through your tough exterior, right? For how long did you cry in the car after you dropped her off? And were you crying while writing this post? Of course you were! Don't lie to me.
    I was wondering when this "She's gone" post was going to hit. And this one really did it to me. My kids are all at the beach right now so reading this post doesn't help. At least I know when they'll be home so that's comforting. This "NEVER COMING BACK TO LIVE HERE EVER EVER AGAIN" put me right over the edge. Please, the next time you do one of these posts, start it out with a warning. Okay.
    Take care Momma!
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. I miss her too and I don't even know her.

  5. P.S. Where is your wedding ring? m.

  6. Ha ha...Mark...thanks for creeping me out with the microscopic examination of the photo! I never wear my ring - it irritates me....gets soap under it, the GIGANTIC diamond gets caught in sweaters and hair...The only time I ever wear it anymore is when I'm hanging out at a coffee shop because I don't wish to appear to be there "to meet people." It kind of serves as a force field for the comb-over cruisers. Oh - and I didn't cry AT ALL on the way home, or since. I'm feeling pretty good!

  7. Wait, what? You did not cry on the way home? I cried the whole way home after dropping Galen at TAMS. Of course, I was alone and he as only 16, but still! I did not cry after dropping him at Rice, it all feels normal now. and, he does come home for the summer and is just this AWESOME person, so I know it will be okay.

    Did you make that dream up, btw? Cause that is just freaky. How does Ellie feel about being a fox? Her hands on the piano are super-fast.

  8. Oh, and tell her to be careful with that chair. I got Galen one of those his first semester at TAMS and it broke within a few months. Don't let kids plop down in it, you would think something being marketed as dorm furniture could handle that, but it can't.

  9. You didn't cry? What are you, a Fembot?

  10. I am totally a Fembot. My breasts are weapons. And Susan - Jeff is sitting in the chair in that pic and I'm thinking if it was gonna go it would have gone. And for reals - I haven't cried! Been pretty busy since I got back...and every time I call Ellie (yes! i call her! a lot!) she is practicing and refusing to really engage in an actual conversation because she doesn't want to risk encouraging me to talk for one second longer than necessary. It's just like old she never even left :).

  11. you wanna know one of my favorite movies....'The Circle of Life'. Applies to us humans too ;-} Stay strong, Sarabi!