The days are winding down until my daughter leaves for college. I know she’s ready, so I don’t have the normal anxiety of letting go, because I know she will be fine. Still, there is this shadow around her leaving.
Its difficult to not think of this as an ending to the journey we have been on together. I think about the day she came into the world, and now in a few days, I will be walking away from her, leaving her behind. This seems like an impossibility no matter how much I have prepared for it.
There have been too many endings this summer, and I see this as true because my sixteen year old has been very close these last days. She is on my heels as I walk around the house, she peers into the rooms I am sitting in as I work. I ask her what she needs, and she tells me nothing, and walks away.
We’ve always thought of our beautiful two story traditional home as our fifth family member. We are each attached to it and it’s light filled rooms, and the many memories we’ve shared together here. Soon, it will be just two of us, but I am hoping that the space that is left behind will be filled with something new.
The possibilities are endless of course: a foreign exchange student, a foster child, or maybe more friends and visitors. My life during this past chapter has been lived beyond this house; I’ve spent my time out in the world, or on boats, or in Tahoe.
I’m now looking forward to being home again, and my life opening up once more, and seeing simply what life will bring to me without my having to look for it.
Because my daughter is heading off to college, conversations with her spark my own memories of college at Oregon State University. Over lunch the other day, I asked her what her biggest fear was, and she said; not being able to find her people. I assured her that she would, but they would not look as she expected. I reminded her not to pay too much attention to the packaging of people and look inside to who they really are. There is no better time in life then this, to forge the deep connections that will later become the fabric of her life. I told her it is important to choose people wisely as they will carry with them all of her memories.
My big sister at Oregon State was a tiny blond half my size. I was her little sister, but seven inches taller. And my best friend in my Alpha Phi pledge class played on the Oregon State Women’s Basketball team. We were unlikely companions, as many people know, I am not much for the gym, but to this day, I love them both dearly, and talk to them often. I am fortunate to have so many friends from college who are still in my life. The other day, two of my favorite Alpha Phi’s came to my daughter’s graduation party, Patty from Marin and Tonya from Alamo.
Not to mention my best friend Debra, who I met freshman year in the hallway of my Buxton dorm, who has been here so much for me this past year.
One of my favorite people is a college boyfriend of mine that I met my first day on campus the night before rush started. I remember the exact moment I saw him. He was standing behind the bar at the Beta house changing the music and wore blue and white checkered vans. He had the brownest eyes and the cutest smile with a tiny space between his two front teeth. When I am in Portland he picks me up from the airport and lends me his car. When my mother died he called me every single day for months to make sure I was alright. When my husband died, and I was in Portland for a soccer tournament, he showed up at the hotel and took me to dinner and came to all of my daughter’s games.
As the years go by, I become more and more grateful for my tribe and the love and support they have given me through the years. Thank heaven for good friends.
I’ve been researching love, and have found some interesting facts. Love releases the same chemicals in our brains as compulsive and obsessive disorders. We also associate love with misery as if suffering in love is proof of love. One researcher asserts that we should change our metaphors for love; we do not fall in love, we step into love. This is less dramatic, but does not carry with it fearful thoughts of pain and injury.
So, we can reframe love and think of it as a collaboration. It is something you make, not something you fall into unexpectedly like a manhole.
I’ve been getting this feeling lately that love really is the third thing. It is what you make when you take the time to develop a good relationship and not let it swollow you whole.
It’s a radical act to ask for what you want, but it is possible to assess what you have to offer, and then talk to your love about what you would like to make together. And then make that. Of course, this requires trust, effort, compromise and patience like any work of art.
Berkeley, California based OCEAN SF founded with the ambitious purpose of converting the old world order of synthetic fabrics used in outdoor apparel, most specifically dangerous polyester fleece garments, to the latest milling technologies to make fabric that is both technologically advanced and all natural to empower sailors and adventurers around the world. The company, started as a performance sailing apparel company, states their first principle for founding was performance. “Nothing performs better than wool when it gets wet. Synthetics may dry fast, but fail to keep one warm when they get wet, and we felt there was a serious performance gap in the market, not to mention a style one too,” says co-founder Andrew LaCenere, an avid offshore sailor who has relied on the performance of wool over synthetics for years.
The company’s purpose has evolved throughout their initial R&D, however. Buoyed by a study last summer conducted by Patagonia that showed how washing polyester fleece in a laundry machine is a major source of plastic microfiber pollution, OCEAN SF has set its sights on converting the entire adventure apparel market into something more sustainable and better for, among other things, the world’s oceans.
“The big players in the adventure apparel market now know the risks their garments pose to the natural worlds that they are supposed to help people enjoy, and to us these inconsistencies are completely disqualifying,” says co-founder Sydney Chaney Thomas.
The company has made other efforts to support Ocean preservation, including helping to found the NFP The Trident Project, which focuses on ocean and environmental research and education.
It’s true, I had a dangerous childhood. When I was six I would walk between the legs of our 25 horses on the farm I grew up on. My father raised thoroughbred race horses. And, I would ride them bareback clinging to their manes.
Of course, I fell off a good deal, and had many bumps and bruises along the way.
My mother was not the most attentive parent, and I have many scars to prove it. My head was cut open by a wagon handle, I had many black eyes from biking accidents and being hit in the face with a rake accidently (that was my mother). I’ve written about being thrown down the stairs, pushed out of a moving truck, and locked in the woodshed. I spent a good deal of my childhood injured. I used to think this was normal, but now I know better.
What I did have was a great deal of freedom to roam unsupervised. My battle scars taught me how to roll with the punches and persevere.
My children have no such scars from childhood. The ER visits were few and far between as my children had plenty of supervision.
My childhood was dangerous, but it was also wonderful. I’ve had a comparatively calm adulthood, apart from recent events, and I’m looking forward to this time with just my youngest daughter.
Soon, I will have only one child at home, and frankly, I am really looking forward to it.
When I was little, I opened the door of my mothers Mustang ’66 Anniversary Gold Fastback and fell out. She eventually slammed on the brakes, threw the car into reverse, and came back to get me. She wore a white shearling coat in those days, and black eyeliner, turned up at the edges like a cat. Plus, she had amazing emerald green eyes. Another time, she left me at a gas station, and was very put out when she had to return to retrieve me.
She had several car accidents and eventually the Mustang was painted red. She drove this car until I was in third grade. She would drive it with our black lab in the back while running errands in the small town where I grew up in the Willamette Valley.
Recently, it has come to my attention, that my mother was very “unique”. And it’s true, she was, but unique is not what you want in a mother.
I’ve tried very hard to fit in, and be the sort of mother who was not unique, but instead behind the scenes, reliable and dependable. Only recently am I allowing my children to see me for who I truly am.
As I move forward on my journey, I can see my mother more clearly, and I now understand she was enjoying her life. Unique may not have been what I wanted, but what more could a child ask for in a role model?
The eclipse is over, my daughter started her third year of high school, I’m packing my eldest daughter up for college and I’m busy resolving the last things from the death of my husband, all while moving my sailing apparel brand Ocean SF forward. Yes, we are selling our signature jackets. Get yours at Oceansf.co.
After my husband died, I longed to be bored and not have to deal day after day with death, and the unforeseen consequences of other people’s actions.
As a result, I came to cherish and long for the mundane everyday problems of a normal life. This past year, I went from one crisis to the next. Now, I’ve finally returned to a life of normal problems.
Yesterday, I woke to a warm refrigerator, this has been going on for a while, and I’ve had it repaired too many times to mention. So, yesterday I bought a new one. It’s the LG with the exterior glass door for drinks. You can knock on the glass door and the light goes on so you can see inside. It’s quiet and energy efficient.
It arrives Friday, and I can’t wait to organize the mustards and arrange the drinks.
Starting over for me has been about forgiveness and acceptance. I don’t know why the cards were dealt the way they were. I could never have foreseen that my life would turn out this way. It has certainly been a plot twist, to say the least, however, I now no longer wish for things to be different.
I am thankful for the lessons that have deepened my faith and required my upmost patience, while strengthening my character, and making me a stronger and more capable mother and role model for my children.
To remain kind and hopeful in the face of adversity is truly a test of one’s character. I’m happy to be through this first year, and enjoying these last days of summer.
I’m looking forward to watching my older daughter grow through her experiences during her first year of college, and in her absence, spending one-on-one time with my little one, who is so funny and filled with joy.
I was taught that if you don’t have something nice to say; then it’s better to say nothing at all, this was taught to me by people who didn’t have a nice thing to say about anyone.
As a result, I dealt with petty jealousy and back stabbers silently. I guess this is how you groom a child to be a docile woman. But it’s true, I let many things slide and even when I did speak up I would then forgive even the unforgivable. I had my heart invested and who among us wants to be alone in the world?
After a year of soul searching and painful and time consuming personal growth, I have come to a quiet and peaceful place where I am content and calm. After the worse has happened, what is there to be afraid of?
A close friend of mine taught me that it’s possible to love someone and not have that person in your life. And it’s the same with forgiveness. It takes a great deal of courage to forgive. I can now forgive with the insight that people who behave this way are suffering greatly.
Compassion is not weakness, and true strength is found in softness.
I took a quick trip to Truckee again. This has been the theme of the summer, back and forth to Truckee, but this time I didn’t feel compelled to go and check on the place where we spread my late husband’s ashes. Instead, I hiked the Truckee River with my friend Susan and talked about the future.
It’s interesting that I’m not the only one in transition and facing an unforeseen future. Yes, we all have plans, but not like we once had when we thought; settle down, buy a house, have a baby, and save for the future. Well, the future is now. Having the road ahead open to so many possibilities is in itself stressful, but the flip side is the excitement of not knowing what comes next.
When I came home last night from Truckee to the Bay Area, and my home surrounded by fog and flowers, I realized completely and with utter clarity that my husband really is gone and he’s never coming back. Never. I sat on my white sofa eating cherries and let this thought burn into my heart.
I’ve reflected a lot on my life as a wife and mother and all that entailed. I will always be a mother, of course, however, now I am often alone with my books and notes, which I entirely love. I missed my own company during the busy and hectic days of raising a young family.
I know my life won’t always be this way, but it feels good to let go of the past and spend these days with myself living entirely in the present.