Monday, September 5, 2011

When They Fly

Stepping off a cliff

Trite as it sounds, life is bittersweet this cool, overcast Labor Day. After a weekend of parties--so many I didn't make it to a couple I planned to attend--this day is for moving Drake and Montana to their their new duplex in a small town two hours away. His lease on his apartment here ran out a couple of months ago, so his worldly goods have been living in my garage while he crashed at his dad's and worked as many hours as he could to save money. I've been spending as much time with him as we could manage--thus the clubbing adventures--but with his 60-hour work weeks and all the other stuff we both have going on, I can't say it's been enough.

Not to put too big a whine on it though. I'm happy for both of them. Montana is going to finish her nursing degree at the small college they'll both attend for the next three years. And Drake will get his national ranger training as well as EMT and some other certificates that involve chain saws and guns and bear wrestling. If they make him sleep outside in a hammock in -10 degree weather, he'll be perfectly happy. I hope they both find their career bliss on this new path they're just beginning. It's going to be a lot of work, and even though they're not that far away, they're not home. One thing I do know is that together they're stronger than ten bundles of sticks.

We've loaded up my van to the roof, and they've gone to get a truck and trailer so we can pack up the rest of the stuff. Waiting gives me too much time to think. Time to think how glad I am that Drake will finally be doing something he loves. All he ever wanted to do was follow in his dad's footsteps in the Air Force. When Drake was growing up, Lt Col Ex was a navigator on KC-135s and EC-135s, a hero in a green flight suit who was often gone more than he was home. Drake was going to be a pilot. And he would have been, except we found out he was color blind, and his dream ended when he was five. To be accurate, we knew it ended; Drake didn't accept it for several years. Color blindness may not seem like a major handicap, but for a kid who only wants to fly airplanes, it's devastating.

He's stubborn. In spite of his many interests and talents--theater, music, history, camping, high adventuring, fixing things with amazing intuition--he hasn't, until now, found anything that could replace flying as a career. I would go so far as to say it broke his heart when he finally accepted that he would never fly. Two years of college didn't spark anything for him so he stopped wasting our money and went to work in the real world. Drake and I homeschooled for 12 years, so I know the patience of waiting for a kid to discover his passions and the drive to achieve his goals. We were never conventional. But I have to say, sometimes I worried that he would never find work that required the best of him and then gave back what we all need in a career--pride in the work, the knowledge that we're making a difference, fun. Above all fun.

My gut, my brain and my heart tell me he's found the career path that will give him all of that. I'm excited for him and proud that he's stepping off the cliff.* I'm delighted that he's found a life companion who is so perfect for him....and for me. This girl was meant to be with my son. I have no doubt of that. I wonder if he wasn't just waiting for her to come into his life and start this adventure with him.

But I'm going to miss him. And I'm going to miss them. I could say more about that but the screen is getting a little blurry. So I'll just leave it at that. I'm proud and I'm excited for them and I wouldn't want them to do anything else....and I'm going to miss them.

*Back in the day, when homeschooling was weird and not many of us were doing it, and the internet was just starting to connect us in our little pockets of aloneness, a friend wrote this analogy: "When we started homeschooling, I felt like I tucked a kid under each arm and stepped off a cliff. Imagine my surprise when I found out we had wings." For our 25th anniversary, Lt Col Ex commissioned a quilt (above) to represent those words and surprised me with it. I cried and hugged him for half an hour before he reminded me I should call my friend who made it and tell her how much I loved it.


  1. I'm glad he found something and someone he loves!!! and although you are teary, 2 hours is really, really close. you could probably bike it in a day trip. or at least drive it in 2 hours.

  2. Even at the speeds I drive it takes a little over two hours, closer to three if the traffic is thick. But it's what they need to do and I am happy for them.

  3. That's good and it beats 2 days on a train.

  4. Gosh, that's the only thing I wrote after all those millions of hours on AOL that mattered, really. :-) I remember Maura picked it up, after I posted it, and passed it along... I am glad it resonated with you, my friend. The fear I felt, on that cliff, was tempered by the support you all gave me--and that's how I got the nerve to step off!