Saturday, September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Driving up to Maine on Thursday afternoon, we tried to remember the last time we had spent Labor Day in Maine, and failed, the failure having as much to do with the infrequency of its occurrence as with the increasingly suspect faculties of memories. The end of August and the beginnng of September, the best time of the year, seemed always to be taken up with school beginnings for the kids: when they were young, with the various requirements of town, club and school soccer; when they got to college, the complicated tasks of getting them, that is their stuff, to dorm rooms. But this year marks a change.

One daughter is still in college but is spending the fall in France. Hers was a relatively simple delivery (not to mention the stuff, of course) from our arms to the safety of a host family in Rennes. The other daughter's trajectory has started on a new course. She too is now safely in France, but as a college graduate in her first job, her first apartment, the first exciting blush of a new and independent life. The goodbyes to her at Logan took on a very different flavor this year.

For the week or two before they left, we could not think clearly. The house was full of their leaving. We were worried and anxious, they were excited and afraid. Every piece of furniture held a story nobody really wanted to speak aloud. All of our labors- ours to raise them, theirs to raise us - were successful. The future was overwhelmingly on offer.

Being here now in Maine, we're calmer. That the old house in which they both spent their whole lives is temporarily quiet and memory-less helps. That they are safe and sound helps. That the weather today is as gorgeous as is possible helps. That the first wrench of separation is over helps tremendously. I look out over the water (there's only 3,000 miles of Atlantic between us!) and feel closer to them than in the last hectic, unnatural days of their departing. I hope on Monday they remember for just a moment the blessings in Maine of family and peace, of days of work and nights of rest, and then get on with the education of their lives.

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