Packing light


So the school is kidnapping my baby and taking her to New York City.

O.K., technically “kidnapping” may be a harsher term than necessary. I may have technically signed a permission slip, but that was during the endless winter of snow when May seemed as likely to come as free unicorn rides.

Now the day (night) is upon us and these people think I am actually supposed to put our baby (she’s 15) on a bus and send her off for days.

People be (field) trippin.’


The actual idea of being in NYC doesn’t bother me. I know they will travel in groups. I’m sure they will buddy system and stick together and if all else fails, phone home.

I’m picturing them lashed together with ribbons tied around their wrists preschool style.

I am slightly concerned about the NYC subway system. Mainly because my entire experience stems entirely from what I’ve seen in movies and television. I also worry they will get hopelessly lost and end up riding the underground rails for years, until they form one of those musical sidewalk ensembles and raise enough in tips to rescue themselves.


The real concern for me is the bus trip. I know that the way news is necessarily reported tends to make things that are actually quite safe seem scary. I’m sure bus travel is very safe. Still, I would feel better if the driver would succumb to a quick little breathalyzer, drug test, and if they so much as blink too long I’m going to be certain they are close to nodding off and completely freak out.

As you can see, I’m keeping calm about the whole thing.

All kidding aside, I really love that she is going on this trip. I love that she is going to the city, being exposed to culture, the nightlife and the amazing snack foods she has managed to pack into one overnight bag. If it is said an Army travels on its stomach, then an Army of teens on a two-day trip travels on a steady diet of chewy things, red dye #7 and salted snack foods.


They were told to pack light. There is nothing more precious than a male teacher telling a group of teen females to “pack light.” Living the dream buddy. Living the dream. There are accessories and layers and appropriate footwear. You have no idea how much a female can fit into one small travel bag, if she really applies herself.

She has money tucked in various places, a cell phone loaded with contact numbers, and the bravado of a child who for 15 years has lived in a bubble of love and protection in a community where if everyone doesn’t know your name — they probably know your mama’s name.

The kids are vibrating with excitement and the oddity of being in the school hallway at 10:30 p.m. They are adorable in their pjs — like overgrown preschoolers.


They clutch blankets, and pillows, and for a moment, their parents. There are extra hugs and kisses and “wait mom!” and special rituals. Head taps, fist bumps, double hugs and blown kisses. You can say what you want, but this crop of teenagers isn’t embarrassed to hug a parent. Thank heavens.

It is a balmy night for early May. Clear and dry with a sheen to the pavement from earlier rain. The suitcases are piled by the cargo hold of a tour bus. As I eye the luggage I think to myself she did fairly well when packing. She took one suitcase, one carry-on, one blanket, one pillow, and my whole heart.

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