Friday, June 01, 2012

Come Sail Away

Three years ago,I wrote a blog called Landslide chronicling the conflicting emotions of seeing my daughter graduate and prepare to go off to college. It was bittersweet to write; a kaleidoscope of emotions ranging from pride and anticipation to one of pending separation where the phrase “coming home” becomes temporary. She’s handled herself well and has worked very hard to graduate this December, thereby finishing her Public Relations degree one semester early.

But there was never a feeling of complete finality that there is now as her brother (and our youngest) begins that same journey. I loved spending more time with him after she went off to school, even though in typical teenage boy fashion he preferred to retreat to his mancave in our bonus room; a digital and music superdome filled with every possible video game console, Blu-Ray for streaming episodes of Breaking Bad, an electronic keyboard, a beginner’s drum set (both instruments that he taught himself), double chocolate muffins and a never ending gallon of “Arnie Palm”.

He’ll make that same walk to Pomp and Circumstance tonight, and I’ll look for him in the sea of white and green. He bears a passable (and much taller) resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe right down to the scar on his forehead. His scar splits his left eyebrow in two-the result of a nasty fall when he was not quite 3 years old.

He’s very smart in a casual yet confident way. I’ve often said that I learn more from him when watching a documentary than I do from the narrator. Sometimes his freakish memory for facts and his love of debate can be annoying, like when he wants specific and defend-able reasons for why he should clean his room. He also expects others to be as smart as he. His sister laughed at me when I called him an intellectual snob, mentioning something about apples and trees. She should talk. She has my identical skill sets and her father’s exact irreverent personality and stubborn streak.

He’s as funny as he is smart and he really “gets” people. When he first started focusing on a possible political science major, he made it clear that he wanted to learn more than just policy. He wanted to know what makes people tick or what makes countries tick. So, he will enter his freshman year at his new college as an International Relations major. It requires a semester abroad so this separation will seem more permanent to me. It also requires a minor in a language. I should probably study with Rosetta Stone once he makes his choice. He’s thinking about Italian. È la tua stanza è pulita?

A job shadow at the FBI has steered him in the direction of a possible FBI/CIA career. The funny thing is that I’ve told him since he was little that he should be a “spy”. He used to love to sneak from room to room as quietly as possible, trying to see how long he could remain undiscovered. (Of course, that backfired on him when he overheard us discussing where to hide the Easter candy.) I think I gave birth to Jason Bourne.

He’s become a very different person in many ways as he struggles for his adult independence. He was voted Most Changed in the high school yearbook which can be attributed to the gain of six inches in height and the loss of 20 pounds of “baby fat”. His round face with braces has been replaced by a long jawline and deep thinking eyes. (He still has the longest lashes I’ve ever seen.) He went from hating music to being a connoisseur of classic rock and an avid Beatles fan. His most wonderful memory of a recent trip to England was crossing Abbey Road with three friends. He was George.

I’m sailing away. Set an open course for the virgin sea. Because I’ve got to be free. Free to face the life that’s ahead of me.

His college of choice is a classic New England private college that is right on the water about two hours from here. I knew he would end up there after the first tour as his demeanor was so different from the 7-8 other schools we visited. It was like he was “home”. He’s never wanted to be in the water but rather on the water. Maybe that’s because he is on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. I think back a few years ago as we took a passenger boat from a beach back to a cruise ship. Almost everyone was sitting down and he was at the front looking out over the water, with his face tilted toward the sun. I remember thinking at that moment that it would not be the last time that I saw that picture

On board I’m the captain, so climb aboard. We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore.

As he rounds this corner into early adulthood, he wants to be called by his real name and not his nickname. This manchild is looking to sail away in more ways than one. I just hope he cleans his room first.

Last year, I found a poem by Kahlil Gibran called “On Children”. It really touched me and I actually bought a print and keep a framed copy in my office. I’d like to offer it to all the parents out there, especially to my dear friend Peggy and those whose sons and daughters are part of the high school or college Class of 2012.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Happy Graduation Day, my baby boy. Fly far and high. And remember what your heroes wrote…

In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

In my life, I love you more.