I should have known a week of sleep-a-way camp was a bad idea. You send a comfortable middle-class kid out in the woods to live like a hobo for a week and what do you expect? That was just a gateway to realizing the world was bigger than his bedroom.
I remember a small boy who was shy and reticent in new situations. I peeled him off my leg at preschool and sent him on ahead anyway. It was good for him. For us.
I sat on sports sidelines for years and watched him get knocked down scuffed up, and whacked right in the face — and worse. I bit my lip and sat on my hands. He was tough. He could take it.
Then, the aforementioned weeks at summer camp came along. He loaded up his gear and trekked off for a week in the woods. He came back older, wiser, and taller in the space of seven days every year — I swear.
In a blink, he said, “I’m going to Australia.” Then he did. He just hopped on a plane with his “adventure hat” and a small backpack. “I’ll figure it out,” he said. And he did.
In college, he lived in apartments not far from home. He returned regularly for laundry and meals. His leaving was slow and stealthy. Sometimes it felt like he still lived there. His bed and electronics, some if not all of his clothes — so many things stayed behind, and he still had his room at home.
College apartments aren’t “home” after all. They are just someplace to hang your lucky “adventure” hat.
We moved him then to a luxury apartment hours away for a paid internship and a year later to a far less luxurious apartment for his first career employment. That apartment was, in a word, squalid. Truly. Someone should probably contact the health department.
Both of these apartments were small. So small that the bulk of his belongings stayed at home.
Today is the day when most of his belongings are leaving — leaving this house that has been home since before he was born. The home we brought him into as a newborn. The home we launched him out of in baby steps, then growing boy steps, then young adult steps.
This is the home that held a thousand dreams — or more.
The bounding steps up the stairs, “Hey mom, guess what?” heralding his arrival. One swift turn at the newel post. Bless the people who installed that. 120+ years later it still holds strong. I have no idea how.
Most of the furniture that has been here for a few months is his fiance’s. She has much nicer things than he does. As she moved from her home state to ours, our home became the storage area, however briefly.
She does have some lovely furniture. So much so that I had begun to threaten to work it into my own decor. Now, it was time.
They had a house with freshly refinished floors, freshly painted walls and a sad assortment of “bachelor pad” furniture dragged from his squalid apartment.
He and Mr. Wonderful made trips up and down from the third floor — his lair — to the moving trailer. Then, they repeated this at the barn. Mr. Wonderful’s office too. Anyplace belongings could be safely stashed, they were.
He made one last walk-through to see what he might be missing. He strode across the newly redecorated guest room that I will forever refer to as his room.
This was the first room — his nursery then — fully finished when the rest of the house was a hard hat area. In his former bedroom, he pulled back the curtain and stood quietly. “My whole life — this view.”
Cue his mother’s tears. In a corner, he grabbed a sword. He had purchased it at a yard sale many years ago. He was probably too young to have a full-fledged sword at that tender age. However, he had a winning smile and parents who were always up for a little adventure, so he got the sword.
Now he picked it up, brandished it and with that same winning grin said, “I’m taking this!”
Suddenly, it was all too real. The furniture? The television? The trappings of adult life? Fine. His childhood things? His SWORD? Well, this was a whole different story.
I supposed he would also want the boxes of high school memorabilia? The varsity jacket? His boyhood toys and trading cards? (Be still my mama heart). “Nah, you keep them … for now.”
I sighed in relief. As long as “Buzz” and “Woody” from his Toy Story days and all those Pokemon cards stay here, he hasn’t really left yet. Right?
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