January 15, 2007
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Last night, my daughter teased me about how tense I was. "I'm only going to be gone for four months," she said. "And we'll talk every day over the internet. And you're coming to see me in March."
She was right, of course. And yet I still felt anxious.
I reminded her of how she felt when she had to go to kindergarten. She cried at the thought of being separated from me for three hours. At the kindergarten orientation, all the kids were supposed to go into one room, and the parents into a different room, and my daughter was just too shy to leave me. She sobbed and clung to me, and she ended up coming with me into the parents' room, the only child who wouldn't go off with the other kids.
Now, of course, our roles are reversed. She has transformed into a confident, self-assured, independent woman who is not at all nervous about living overseas for a semester. And I am the one with the separation anxiety. Oh, I am excited about her taking this trip, thrilled that she has this fantastic opportunity, but it is still difficult to let her go.
Late last night, just after we had had a nice candle ceremony in front of the fire, and we were talking about all the cool things she was going to see in Famous European City, she showed me the instant message Film Guy had just sent her. "WINTER STORM WARNING. TRAVEL ADVISORY IN EFFECT." The weather experts were predicting freezing rain, sleet, an accumulation of ice.
Freezing rain can make the woods beautiful, every twig and branch coated with shining ice. But it can also shut the airport down. And my daughter needed to make her flight out of Snowstorm City Airport so that she could get to Big City Like No Other in time for her overseas flight.
It turns out that the one thing that can make me more anxious than the thought of my daughter leaving is the thought that she might not be able to leave. So my separation anxiety disappeared over the more familiar worrying about the weather here in Snowstorm Region. And worrying about weather? We are used to that here. I slept fine last night.
I did wake up this morning to the sound of rain and sleet, which had turned the trees outside into drooping ice sculptures and the roads into slick surfaces. But my daughter had given herself seven hours of extra time in Big City Like No Other Airport, just in case something like this happened, and an hour delay would make no difference.
So she said goodbye to her sleepy brothers and listened to their last minute advice ("Don't let anyone know you're American," said Boy in Black, "Pretend you're Canadian. Everyone likes Canadians."). She'd said goodbye to my parents on Friday night, when my mother had her over for dinner, but we stopped on the way to the airport so she could say goodbye to her other grandmother. Then at the airport, she checked her luggage, hugged both my husband and me, and stepped into the security line. We stood and watched while she made her way through the line, gathered her things, and put her shoes and coat back on. Then she turned to wave goodbye one last time and disappeared around the corner.
Posted by jo(e)