I am now a seasoned veteran of the sending the daughter to college phenomena. Last year was THE year. The year of departure and wing flapping. If I do say so, myself, I handled it well. I was ready, she was ready, we were ready. Year one was an amusing experience as we crossed the country, funded the UPS man’s retirement, and landed among the masses of incoming freshman and parents.
I came up with the term “love sherpa” that first year. I was one of many beleaguered parents following their child up the hill. Said child was busy texting/talking/e-mailing with cellular device embedded in their ear. The parents followed three steps behind swiping their tired credit cards and toting the cache. Love sherpas all.
But now we have it down to a science. My daughter had an amazingly successful freshman year and blossomed even more into neo-adulthood. When it came time to return this year, we had a great time. There was an ease between mother and daughter that is not always present. I took in the moment and dared to resurrect a banter we hadn’t done in years.
When she was a toddler one of us would start the game.
“Guess what? What? Guess what? What? Guess what? What? I YUV YOU!!!!”
“I YUV YOU TOO!”
She picked right up on it, not missing a beat and down the street we went ensconce in our own moment. We had come back to each other and our mom/daughter rhythm.
Though it needs to be said that my credit card was gasping once again.
When I got back to the hotel by myself, leaving my daughter to organize herself, to the extent that that is possible, I retired to the bar for a well earned glass of Chardonnay.
Just outside the bar, I watched a young, newly married couple waiting at the door of the ballroom to be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. M……… for the first time. They are clearly in love and lust and demonstrating complete joy as their new life unfolds before them and the celebration begins.
I flash back twenty two years ago.
Someone once said that love is what remains when lust dies, or at least goes on vacation to that tropical island where the two of you honeymooned.
I have recently read a wondrous treatise of one woman’s journey through a very rough spot in her marriage that is, otherwise, considered “golden”.
Don’t they all start out that way? I know mine/ours did. Full of passion and possibilities and a golden road that lay ahead.
But I think a marriage is made of what happens when the golden glow fades into the light of the everyday. Everyone, or at least I hope everyone basks in the glow of new love. The kind that requires neither food, nor water, nor the outside world, nor anything but each other. Whatever that is defined between the two of you, life interferes. Bills, taxes, miscarriages. It can interfere by the fact that one of you does not load the dishwasher the right way, a variant of the toothpaste tube dilemma. One of you doesn’t fold shirts the proper way. (How did I miss THAT quirk in the courtship?)
The golden-ness fades in the day to dayness of life. But it doesn’t go away entirely. It rekindles for us regularly. With only the slightest provocation, the glow is there.
I would trade that moment the young couple is having. Those of us who had a formal ceremony. I would trade it all for more of the day to day. Both the laughter, the mundane, and the tears. I would take it all as long as we could have any version of it for all eternity. The time goes by far too quickly but his warm hand is always there.
It’s a goofy world out there, best faced together.
We have, like almost everyone, had our very dark moments of loss, betrayal, disappointment. There are still a couple of phrases we could unearth and hurl at each other that can make the tears of remembered pain well up.
But I look at that couple, high fiving each other and grabbing butts with their backs to all but me. I think of my daughter in her dorm room a few blocks away blossoming into the future and her dad and I are the link in that unique chain toward everything ahead. I see both the potential now and the potential yet to come. And we are a key part. It is the greatest gift we gave each other.
I love the history. All of it. I love that we have twenty two years and three magical children. That we have had our highs and lows. We have all of this together. It is special to us, as unique as this beginning is to that young couple out there. That’s magic.
Our favorite quote from a song by Stan Rogers. “I just want to see your smiling face forty five years from now.
I hope they get that too.
We are all love sherpas. We all tote and carry and share and heal and separate and come back to each other again.
I yuv you too. Always.