2 down – a mere 50 to go
I have been seriously wondering about where this blog was going to take us this week. I’ve had several ideas.
I was, for example, going to tell you about:
Going to high school in the middle of Manhattan and being asked to produce a ‘leaf collection’ for a Science project. Never was it more obvious that the nuns all came from the mid-West, or that they hadn’t been outside the building in years. Still, how were they – or I – to know that all of the trees belonging to the big city hotels and banks were fitted with burglar alarms? If it weren’t for that girl with the weekend house in the country selling me those leaves, I might still be in the 11th grade.
Trekking for hours through the jungle with astronaut John Glenn, only to come into a clearing and finding myself in a scene from Zulu. Except, of course, that the charging warriors were Papua New Guinean not African, and that the spears stopped on the healthy side of his chest. They were just as pointy though.
Waiting for a lift one day in the State Department, minding my own business, and suddenly finding a pair of terrifyingly strong hands around my neck and a deceptively soft voice whispering ‘boo’ in my ear. Who knew that boxing legend Muhammad Ali had such a sense of humour? Or whose bizarre idea it was to ask him to go on a diplomatic tour of Africa, stopping in at various countries along the way to urge them to boycott the Moscow Olympics? Not me, that’s for sure.
Having created a monster. You would have thought that cycling to Paris was going to be the hard part. But, you would be wrong. No sooner had the champagne been drunk and the Eiffel Tower left behind, then my husband announces that he is going to take up cycling. This was a surprising statement coming from a man with a Homer Simpsonesque physique, one functioning eye, no sense of balance or depth-preception, and a limp. But, a year later and he has turned into Lance Armstrong. Well, maybe not Lance himself but definitely one of his heavier, slower, less co-ordinated relatives. The one who doesn’t know when enough is enough, or understand that not everyone wants to cycle in a torrential rainstorm, along a muddy path, next to a swollen river, on a racing bike, with no lights. Or brakes.
Or, or, or, or…
I tried to tell you about those things. I really did. I even started on a few and got a sentence or two in before I found myself staring at the same few words on the screen for what seemed like hours. But, the truth is, I couldn’t. My heart just wasn’t in it. There’s only one thing I can think about right now. Only one topic on my mind…
My boy is leaving
By this time next week, he will be gone. His room will be empty. His shoes will be missing from the hallway clutter. His cereal bowl will be in the cupboard, his golf clubs in the closet, his friends out of the sitting room. The house will be enormous and, perhaps, even clean. The walls will not constantly reverberate to music. There will be food in the refrigerator and something other than football on the television. There will be peace, and quiet, and a boy-shaped hole in our lives. But, it is what his father and I have wanted for him for the past 20 years. It is what he, and we, have been working towards, and dreaming of, and – sort of – saving for. He is off to university.
He’s ready, if you overlook the fact that none of his clothes are washed, or new pots and pans packed, or student finance forms completed. But, those are just the details. He’s ready where it counts. He is looking forward to beginning this new phase of his life. He is eager to meet his roommates, his classmates and his new friends, especially his future girlfriend – I have to say, I’m pretty eager to meet her myself. He can’t wait to start exploring his new city, tasting his own cooking, living his own life. He is even becoming slightly interested in what Social Anthropology might actually be about, although perhaps I am just imagining that last one.
Intellectually, at least, I get it. I accept the fact that the time has come for him to do this. I understand that Mickey’s hands have been moving around that clockface for a rather long time now. I even realise that it has been quite awhile since he had to stand on the steps if he wanted to look me in the eye, and not vice-versa.
But, university? Really? My baby boy?
I could swear it was only weeks ago when we were getting serious feedback on his ‘scissors control skills’ and being told that he must learn to ‘lift his knees higher whilst marching’. Only days ago when he was being taught that the school motto of ‘be kind and don’t run’ applied at all times and to all things, except on the rugby pitch. Only hours ago when the science teacher was telling us that she had actually warned him to duck during that lesson on sulphuric acid and explosions.
And yet, here we are, getting him ready to go. He has his place on a course, his room in a dorm and enough shampoo and razor blades to last him for his entire university career. Unless, of course, washing and shaving King Kong becomes required at some point, for some reason. You never know, it could. Best to be prepared. After all, anything can happen in Manchester.
And, when it comes right down to it, that’s just what we are hoping for him – anything and everything. A million experiences. Adventure and friendship and love and excitement, and perhaps even a nice little desk somewhere in the library.
So….Goodbye, Christo. Have a wonderful time. Enjoy yourself enormously. Learn lots. Live lots. But don’t forget, as the future Sir William Thatcher’s father rather melodramatically told him in our favourite film, to follow your feet home every now and again. You may be grown up but I am, after all, still your mother. And I know where you will be living.