Sunday, June 28, 2009

In which Velvet runs into the Woods

Pretty soon, I'll be saying "good bye" to Velvet for some weeks. He'll be back for a little while in August, then Buzz Kill and I will take him up to college. It occurs to me that when I've gotten a bit panicked about Velvet going to college, it's because I've been looking at this milestone as if Velvet would be gone forever. Nothing will be the same in our little home - but that doesn't mean he's Gone Forever.

Granny the Ho is gone forever since she's graveyard dead. You have to say Good Bye when someone dies regardless of your views on an afterlife. Dead is dead, after all. Velvet is simply taking some of his shit and living in a dormitory a few hours away.

At the graduation ceremony on Friday, I watched Gigi looking at babies and little kids. The world around her went into soft focus, and you could practically hear, "I want one," hanging in the air. Women often get like that when they are about 30. The longing for a child becomes palpable. Interestingly, the longing never fills the air when they're looking at teenagers. When my mother caught me looking at a little kid with longing, she never failed to say, "They all grow up to be teenagers." Scared the hell out of me. I love the way my mother bursts glowing bubbles of dreams with stark practicality. She does that with all her children to this very day - which just goes to show that your relationship with your child may go through changes, but it's constant.

The dance of attachment and separation is a constant, too. For the moment, I'm not worried about separating from Velvet. We seem to be managing this process admirably. Spending half a day with Buzz Kill and his mother left me thankful to be divorced. I may be attached enough to Buzz Kill so that I don't want to say Good Bye Forever, but I'm cool with never seeing his mother again. Same with my assistant at my former job. I cordially despised both of them, though, and the relationships with them were something that I had to tolerate like an anal exam at an annual physical. Separation is a cause for celebration in those cases.

There are romantic relationships and friendships - attachments - that last forever despite time, distance and lifestyle changes. Then, there are relationships that are out of balance and eventually collapse. I've got holes in my life right now where some people used to be. I wished those friendships were different, but I didn't want them to end.

Some relationships do end, but not the one between me and Velvet.

The first summer he went to the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp in Vermont, I was a bit desolate without him. After three weeks, his father and I went up for Parent Weekend with enough "contraband" -- Oreos, Skittles, Red Twizzlers, Beef Jerky, Nacho Flavored Doritos etc, etc, etc -- to give all the boys in his cabin a stomach ache. When it was time for the parents to go home, I thought Velvet would give me a giant hug and . . . Hell, I still don't know what I was expecting. What I got was a quick, "Bye, Mom," as he charged into the woods, running down the hill to find his friends.

I was stunned at how quickly he disappeared. But after a moment, I knew things were as they should be. Those woods were alive with shouts, laughter, learning. Sun on green leaves against a brilliant blue sky. He could dart off so easily because he knows with complete certainty that I'll not only be delighted to see him whenever he gets back; most likely, there will be cookies. That's a secure attachment.

The Road at the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp in Vermont

He's dashing off to the woods again, sort of. At college, he'll be studying environmental sciences and engineering instead of survival skills, but within the first month of school, the freshman go on retreat in the Adirondacks with the kids in their major, so there will still be woods involved.


Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Where'll Velvet attend college? That retreat idea sound like a good one, but it would work at a pretty small school.

Nice metaphor: running into the woods...

PENolan said...

He's going to SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry which has a total of 1500 undergrads. I think about 30 of them are environmental engineering majors.
The forestry school was founded in 1911 in partnership with Syracuse University. They've had a ranger school up in the Adirondacks since 1912

I'm proud to have created a "tree hugging, peace loving, porn watching, pot smoking, lazy assed hippy." The world could use more of us ;)

Gail said...

Hi Trish-

You out-did yourself on this post - really, really amazing writing. I loved every word. And I know, so well, when they go in to the woods and I know even better that they know we are there when they come back out with cookies - except I would have a strawberry rhubarb pie.

You and Velvet are FOREVER....

Love to you

PENolan said...

I love strawberry rhubarb pie.

And ever since this morning, I've had Stephen Sonheim's "Into the Woods" in my head.

RevPhat said...

Hi Penolan and friends, thanks for signing on to facebook. We're in the homestretch and I have a post up where you can let me know how many cans you all donated. Please send me your tally only to one place - either facebook or the blog - so I don't get confused.

Here's facebook:
And here's the UnrulyMob: If you have any questions about the Million Can March, leave them in the comments at this link.

If you have any questions about this,

RevPhat said...

Out thought myself on that last post ;) Yeah, I'm menopausal, too!!

Utah Savage said...

Lucky Velvet! A wise mother and complete security to back up that leap into the future. And the school sounds wonderful.

I proud of you for creating that kind of person. You have raised a man who'll be fun to be with and who'll be just fine with a bit of solitude. Solitude is underrated I think.

PENolan said...

I hear you, Utah. I'm looking forward to some quiet time.

themom said...

I remember sending my son off to college. I thought my world was crashing in around me. Ivisited him (a 3 hr drive) every other week, and now he is a globetrotting engineer for the biggest corporation in the world. He has been doing this for eight years and I miss him all the time, but he is the best son in the entire world. Here are your wings, spread them and soar!!

Comrade Kevin said...

It's touching how close you are with him. My mother and I have always been close, but then she had me when she was very young herself and says that the two of us kind of grew up together.

As for children, the girlfriend and I have an agreement that they are nothing we want for a VERY long time, if not forever. And, since her sister has bipolar and I have bipolar, the odds of having a bipolar kid would be probably 60-75%. I'm not really willing to run that risk, ya know?

PENolan said...

Comrade, you and E wait until you're damn good and ready.
Hey themom - I'll be soaring as soon as I get the house cleaned up ;)

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