“I assume it gets easier each time he leaves,” my Aunt Helen wrote about Aidan’s return to school in New Orleans.
He’ll be leaving in the early morning with former roommate and fraternity brother Daniel Mishkin.
The two of them will be making the 16-hour trek over the course of two days. (Thankfully for us, they are stopping overnight at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. )
In many ways, Helen is right.
Aidan’s excited about getting back to campus for the second half of his junior year to see his friends, continue writing and generally be in the flow of Tulane life.
We’ve been enormously fortunate to have large chunks of time with Aidan, much of it Internet free, during the month we all spent together in Chile and in the pair of weeks since we returned to Chicago.
As opposed to many Chileans, who are known for living at home even until the forties, Aidan’s more like many American youth who have outward homing devices that are active years before they reach 18 years old. That trend has only accelerated since he graduated from ETHS and started at Tulane in the Fall of2011.
A month in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State and a semester of studying and traveling in New Zealand, Australia and Bali have only strengthened Aidan’s pre-existing state of independence and practice of competence.
In Chile we saw all manner of spectacular, haunting and illuminating sights, walking on the scorching sands of the world’s driest desert, hiking in one of the planet’s most gorgeous national parks and visiting the most fantastic of legendary poet Pablo Neruda’s three homes.
The volume of time and the sights weren’t the most meaningful parts, though.
Rather it was the space to engage in lengthy, soulful conversations at an important juncture in all of our lives.
At moments I could feel us move together into a place where we are all adults who decide together what we want to do individually and as a family.
We have the comforting knowledge that we’ve been through this before.
We also know we’ll see Aidan again sometime in March and are grateful that he wants to be in Chicago this summer for an internship.
It’s been such a pleasure to have Aidan around that I feel a twinge again at his leaving, at the absence of seeing him on a daily basis.
The renewed reminder of the years that have passed and how we are all that much further down the road of life and closer to its inevitable add another layer of bearable sadness.
Tonight we ate together in the dark light of our favorite Indian restaurant.
The three of us talked quietly about Aidan’s trip and the semester that awaits him, about where we should place his belongings in the car, and about some of the places we all would like to go.
I sat across the table from the bearded young man I’ve had the privilege to help raise and the woman to whom I have pledged myself and with whom I will spend the rest of my life.
Poised between the journey we’ve been so fortunate to share and Aidan’s impending departure, we raised our glasses and toasted to each other.