Last week my son Eli and I got into the car and drove down to Sea-Tac airport.
It was a beautiful day. We saw honest-to-goodness sunshine for the first time in a long time. I was glad I remembered to bring my camera. Turning onto Main Street, we saw the Olympics in all their glory.
Eli and I have a very simple system for sharing the camera. If I’m driving, it’s “Eli, quick, take a picture of that. Without the power lines, if you can!” Sometimes he gets excited, and says, “Ooh, Mom, can I have the camera?” South of downtown Seattle, we rounded a bend, and gasped at the magnificence of Mt. Rainier, looming over the city like a great white ghost. ”Quick, Eli, take a picture!”
He got a good one. Only this time, I asked him to take another, with the carpool sign in it. At the time I wasn’t sure why, but I realize now it’s because I wanted to remember being together in our little family carpool, sharing that moment in our beautiful home town.
Everything seemed so natural, and ordinary. Except this time, we parked at the airport, checked his bag, and grabbed a cuppa joe and a goodbye kiss, before he boarded an airplane to Argentina as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Salta.
While inching his way through the maze toward the security gate, we waved and smiled at each other each time he passed by. He reminded me of a kid waiting in line to go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Only this was the real thing. My son put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack and ukelele, and gave me one final salute before hurrying off to his gate. Then I went to the parking garage, got into my car, and blubbered.
I’m so proud of my son. He’s courageous and adventurous. He’s doing what all our baby birdies are supposed to do. We hatch them, and nurture them….
They test their wings…
…and then they fly. That’s their job.
My job is to miss them, and worry, and love them wherever they are, and to get on with my life. I had shows to rehearse for, a manuscript to finish, out-of-town company coming to visit.
It seemed impossible that I should be arriving back home while Eli’s plane still sat on the tarmac waiting for take-off. I swung by the water, and saw that the sun was still shining. Cars and people were still coming and going.
Ferry boats too.
On the way up the hill to our house I passed another familiar sight. I’d always appreciated the simple beauty of this little wooden structure, vaguely wondering who had built it on such thickly forested unoccupied land–and why. That day I perceived it as a work of art, an invitation, a gateway to adventure, to the unknown, to the future. And I stopped to take a picture for Eli.
Click here to read Elaiya Blogea, Elijah’s very funny, very interesting blog about a year in Salta.
All images and words c2013 Naomi Baltuck.