Last Friday I gladly volunteered to accompany my almost 19 year old son Taki to the bus station, which would take him to the airport to catch a flight 4 hours later. He wanted to drive his car, make his way with me in the passenger side. He pulled into the parking lot and parked the car. I was surprised that he parked, assuming he would want to jump out of the car while it was still rolling as to avoid anyone witnessing him getting out of a car with his dear old Mom. I imagined he would want to wait in the dark, cold, smoky tunnel shaped shelter on his own. I asked, “ do you want me to wait until the bus comes?” “Yes”. I silently coached myself –don’t blow it, be cool, be cool, don’t be that Mom “ Are you excited for your trip honey? Oh my God, honey, really and what a dumb thing to ask AGAIN. Yes Mom (suspected eye roll). He put on some music – loud – probably to avoid anymore mom questions. He began telling me about this artist and how he will be going to their concert in Boston in a few weeks with his good friend Keiran. I had a large proud lump in my chest but a smaller – harder-louder lump in my throat. I quickly said “cool” but the reel started to play in my mind- the show was called “things that can go wrong while traveling alone” I told him again to be aware of his surroundings, drink plenty of water. And it just started, a rapid fire of advice that I had already spewed upon him over the past week. I didn’t even take a breath. He was looking at me with this gentle look on his face. “Mom I know, I’ll be ok” It’s not like this is his first trip. He has been lucky enough to have traveled since he was a pre-teen. Some trips on his own, some trips with me and some with his girlfriend. He is a savvy traveler and a excellent travel companion.
The music was enjoyable, thumping and he sang along and then I spotted the bus, “It’s here.” I stayed in the car and I watched him board. Once he had made his way to his seat I pulled next to the bus shelter acting cool and collected, listening to my music turned up loud, thumping and singing full voice. I waited until the bus pulled out of the parking lot and onto the highway. He was off and I felt some relief – knowing he had been looking forward to this trip. I am happy that he has found love and joy in his life. He is off on his journey, not needing me anymore but still letting me see him off. I looked out of this fast food /gas station/bus station parking lot and remembered how many times I had been there myself. Picking someone up or dropping someone off, thinkin of the times I was the driver and my mother was in the passenger seat seeing me off to follow my heart. This place of transition and journeys beginnings and endings right here next to Burger King.
I, of course was crying at this point, unable to see out of the windshield, glasses useless – I wiped my eyes and looked at the rear view mirror – and dangling from them were his tiny pair of adidas. I had given him his first pair of sneakers to hang in his car when he got his license. These tiny things that I can remember putting on him before trekking to the the bus stop in Portland – on our way to the zoo, the Children’s museum, to the park for a playdate, to Pioneer square to chase pigeons. I gave him a solid pair of shoes, comfortable and supportive. I tied them up tight to make sure he would be safe and keep from tripping. He still tripped – usually over a rock or a curb – or his own feet. Sometimes I caught him but not always.