Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reflections: Road Trip


The past week has been a hectic one, centered on getting my oldest daughter properly supplied, packed, and transported, to begin her freshman year of college. This involved a 1500 mile round-trip, by car, over the course of three days, with the setting up of a dorm room sandwiched between the two all-day driving sessions. Then, at the end of it all, you find yourself at home, minus the presence of a loved one who has been one of the central focuses of your life for the past 18 years. It isn’t quite the “empty nest” syndrome yet, since she has a sister a year behind her. But there remains a gaping hole, nonetheless.

My good friend, Jim, who has only one daughter, and went through this a couple of years ago, tells me that he’s still adjusting to it. And then he tells me that you hear from them most often when they’re unhappy. Talk about the proverbial rock and the ubiquitous hard place.

All complaining and lamenting aside, the drive through the hills and mountains of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts is a particularly beautiful one. Even driving through Connecticut and New Jersey at night, on the way back, provided some sinister beauty. You are speeding along dimly-lit elevated highways, through cityscapes resembling scenes once envisioned in futuristic film noir. Towering edifices, like alien monuments edged in twinkling lights, loom up out of an absolute darkness, as though projected by the eerie, greenish-blue light reflected from their massive planes, deeply etched by the angular dance of jet black shadows. Where the highway passes over human dwellings, made visible by ordinary street lights, it is impossible to imagine the lives of the people who live within such ancient wooden frame structures. None of it seems real.

Back now, in humdrum Ohio, in a house with an empty bedroom, surrounded by a large lawn which needs tending regardless of the end-of-summer heat wave, perhaps there will be some consolation in resuming the daily reading which the distractions of the past week have made nearly impossible?

8 comments:

William R. Barker said...

Congrats and commiserations, bud. Been there, done that. (*SMILE*) In fact... still do'n it! Only I only have a 225 mile trek to make. And get this: Kim flew directly from San Fran (where she was working) back to Boston (where she's a senior at Emmanuel) last night. On Saturday Mary and I have to load a rented van with her sh... err... stuff... and drive it to her new apartment in Quincy, MA., where she and her roomate will be (hopefully!!!) waiting for us. The good news is, though... after dropping her stuff off it'll be off to New Hampshire (LIVE FREE OR DIE!!!) for us to spend the weekend at "Tedland" (aka: The Maryzone), our friends' house. Kim and her roomate might actually drive up on Sunday or Monday to hang with us old foggies... and cage a free meal of course! (*WINK*)

Rob... it's a really GOOD thing that your daughter is going away to school. 1,500 miles away too! Shows spunk and independence - vision and brains too. You should be very proud.

Heartfelt advice from "Good Bill" to "Good Rob": Be ready for anything. My daughter Kim started out at UVM and didn't like it. Too isolated for her. But she LOVES Boston! Ya just never know. If your kid is homesick the first month or so... that's normal. (If she's not... THAT'S GREAT!!!) (*GRIN*) If - God forbid - she tells you in October (and sticks with it thru November) that she's not happy where she is... take her concerns seriously. My initial reaction was to say "tough it out, at least finish the year out," but looking back on it... I was wrong.

Anyway... good luck to you AND your elder daughter. Enjoy your younger daughter while you've got her! (*GRIN*)

BILL

Rodak said...

Thanks, Bill. All good advice, I'm sure. For now, we wait and see...

Madscribe said...

Back now, in humdrum Ohio, in a house with an empty bedroom

It's not a bedroom. It's now called a "den." Enjoy it!

My hats always go to you father types. I enjoy disposable income too much to procreate ...

Rodak said...

Madscribe--
Disposable income? Is that like "spare change"--i.e. nonexistant...

William R. Barker said...

To my fellow fathers of daughters:

Three words to impart to your girls:

TRUST
FUND
RICH

Yes... though the kid will probably screw me in the end and marry a fellow teacher... (*SIGH*)... I've tried my best to fill her growing skull full of mush with these words...

TRUST
FUND
RICH

Follow me here, lads! Sure... we want our kids to marry for LOVE. Yes... above all we want their HAPPINESS! But... is it so much to ask that they fall in love with a TRUST FUND RICH boy/man who will be in a position to make his father's-in-law waning years more... pleasant?

Sure, sure... the kid herself could become rich - I'm not making sexist assumptions here. (Moi?!?!) But... just in case... what's wrong with marrying the heir to a futune... say... somewhere between $40-million and Sultan of Bruni rich?

Rob... face it... you and I are *NOT* going to be the most... wall-flower-like fathers. (*GRIN*) (Why am I flashbacking to the in-laws from "Darma and Greg?") Anyway... imagine this conversation between your daughter and her filthy rich husband sometime in the future:

Daugher - Dear...?
Son-in-law - Yes dear?
*D - Daddy called today.
*SIL - (*SILENCE*)
*SIL - Yes...? (*SIGH*)
*D - Daddy said he's thinking of coming up to visit for a few weeks this summer...
*SIL - (*SILENCE*)
*D - BUT...! Right before that... he said something about a three-month world cruise... if only he could afford it.
*SIL - (*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)
*SIL - Ya know what, hon... as much as I'd LOVE to have your dad stay with us over the summer... he - YOUR DAD - deserves better. Ya know what... let's send him on that cruise! OUR TREAT!!!
*D - (*LOOK OF CONTENTMENT*)
*SIL - (*LOOK OF TRIUMPH*)
Father-in-law - (*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)

BILL

P.S. - You might say, "Bill... but what of our wives?" Hey... this is *my* frigg'n fantasy Rob. You can include your wife in the lottery scenario if you want. (*SNORT*) (*GRIN*)

Rodak said...

That's just not me, Bill.

An Interested Party said...

Thanks goodness that isn't you, Rob...you're a better person than that...and congratulations and salutations to you and your family...

Rodak said...

Thanks, AIP. Your goodwill is much appreciated.