May 22, 2011

"A Good Kind of Tired"

This is my newspaper column that ran in eight Indiana newspapers during the last ten days.

Someone once asked my college friend Pam if she was tired after a special event. She said, "Yes, but it's a good kind of tired."

I'm sitting at Reagan National Airport, in the midst of Monday morning flutter, tapping my heels together and ready to get home and see my husband, who could not make this trip. No, this just isn't Kansas anymore.

I came to the city to move my college-aged son to his first apartment. I arrived with perfectly manicured nails, newly cut hair, no balances on my credit cards, a wad of cash, and seemingly unlimited amounts of energy.

I sit in the airport computer lounger, index finger nail broken, most others chipped, no make-up, joints sore, wallet empty, credit card balances full, and like my laptop I'm running on limited and decreasing battery power.

But it's a good kind of tired.

When you send your child away to college, it is so frightening. Who will he become? What will happen? Who will be his friends? Will he handle life so far away? Will I even know him anymore? And it doesn’t matter if is it Muncie or Washington, DC, it’s the fear is still the same.

There is little left of the frightened boy we dropped off here three and a half years ago. In his place is a man. He has overcome serious challenges to be where he is today; and I feel confident that the world is his oyster.

A highlight was meeting and seeing our son's interactions with friends all over the city. Wherever we went, he was running off to see someone, or someone was shaking his hand. When he came to college, we I swore I just would never allow him to live in an apartment in the Wicked City.

Now he's a city dweller, and helped me navigate the trains and streets as I drove the rental van. (He isn't old enough to rent one.)

His apartment is a typical Guys College Apartment, that is, a nightmare. I wouldn't sleep there, actually I don't think I even sat down. Nor did I want to. (Thirty-plus years ago my mother cried when she saw my first college apartment, a studio in Muncie renting for $100 a month.)

All of this is a part of the experience. My Dad used to call it "broadening your horizons." This summer my son has roommates from Hungary, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. He has friends and professors from all over the world, and many of his professors also work in various government jobs.

No, he is not in Kansas anymore. I don't know if he'll ever want to click his heels together and return to the place of his birth. But I am confident that he has the heart, brains, and courage to figure it out for himself. The Raven Lunatic © 2011