Today, Sara left for a trip to see my sister for a week. It leaves me, from now till Saturday afternoon sometime, with that strangest of all circumstances-a truly empty house. I am fairly certain that this is the first time we've had everyone gone for more than one night. The others are gone to other camps and retreats. Today I am not waiting for anyone to come home, nor is there anyone to get out of bed or remind to eat breakfast. There are messes to clean up from the process of getting her out the door, but once they are cleaned up, they will not get dirty again for about 48 hours.
Another first was that at the airport today, after I helped her check her luggage, I did not get a gate pass but instead watched from behind the cordon as Sara got herself through security and down to her gate. She has flown by herself about 5 times since she was 12 or so, so she has complete confidence. It was great to see her be so poised and grown-up. I bobbed up and down on tippy-toes looking through the crowd for her golden hair and also for her signature fashion look right now-two different colored socks-to make sure she got through the scanner and picked up her bag. At one point, she looked back to see if I was still there, and it may have been in total irritation, but it made me weepy that she was even thinking of me. We had a good week this week with her brothers gone, full of shopping and fast-food lunches and dinners. We didn't have any arguments, and while I would have preferred to take long walks by the river in the afternoons, it was okay that we spent time together in her world. She started reading The Woman in White, and she likes it, so we had that to talk about. I think for a mom and a very strong-minded 15-year old, that's pretty good. It's enough for me right now. Maybe the thing she'll appreciate about me when she grows up is that I let her go and have her own adventures. We'll have time for other adventures as she becomes an adult and our relationship evolves. I look forward to that.
After I dropped Sara off, I went to say hi to my mom, who lives near the airport. I came face to face with the large, beautiful built in bookcases that had been my refuge during my high-school years. They were mostly empty. It was a shock to me. When I found out they were selling the house (it came up very quickly and unexpectedly) I made plans to get a whole series of photographs of the inside of my mom's house. I loved it when Cami did that at her Grandparents'. I missed my chance though. My sister and my sister-in-law brought the white tornado of order and efficiency and a lot of the house is already unrecognizable. I was at Girls' camp and I missed the last moments of the house as it was. I am left with a gray storm of hard-to-understand emotions at the sense of loss I'm feeling. I only lived there for 4 years, then a couple of summers, then I got married. My teen years were full of turmoil for various reasons, so I strain to even call up many happy memories of those years because I've blocked out as much of the conflict as I can. I guess they were important years nonetheless, and in spite of our family's imperfections, we hung on and still managed to stick together. Also, we have lived nearby for most of my marriage, so that house was the gathering place-the place of family and memories and it does feel like home. Now that my idea of preserving those memories has been taken away, I'll have to work to create the portrait I want in other ways. So, now I will go through hundreds and hundreds of photos and try to scan the ones that show the place as I remember it. In the end, maybe it will be even better, because it will show the people that were there. That's what a home is anyway. Not the stuff. The bookcases are only the background in this photo, not the important thing. That's what I have to remember.