The fact that my son is now receiving more mail than I am comes as no real surprise. I don't tend to get a lot in the first place. Mostly what I get are offers for some form of insurance, usually connected to my job. Most weeks, if it weren't for my subscription to Entertainment Weekly, I could probably go a month or two without ever getting so much as a postcard. That's fine with me, since the bulk of the correspondence that fills our mailbox comes addressed to my wife, supply sergeant and chief financial officer.
Still, it's a little strange to be dragging in stacks of letters, fliers and oversize envelopes for my son. It used to be that his monthly issue of Car and Driver kept him content. Now his desk is frequently littered with unopened requests for his attention, coming from institutions from across the country, begging him to consider them in his future plans. Especially enjoyable are the full color maps of campuses that we may never visit, but they do inspire a sense of nostalgia. This isn't because of any connection to academia, they are reminiscent of the fold-out diagrams of Disneyland that we continue to drag home after each and every visit, just in case the geography of that place should ever change in the slightest way.
Somewhere beneath the deluge of junk mail, however, is this undercurrent of anxiety: Our little boy is getting ready to leave us. After years of insisting that he would go to college in Berkeley so that he could still sleep at home, his sights have begun to expand. He actively entertains invitations from schools in Vermont. He pores over glossy photos that entice him to become an Tyler Texas Patriot. He gets so many of these dispatches from institutes of higher learning that many of them simply go unopened. Too much information, not enough time for a high school junior to take it all in.
But I do. I look at them all and start to think about the airline tickets home for the holidays. I imagine the road trips to this or that destination. I wonder if someday there will be a home for my son in a place like Texas or Vermont. Or Malibu. Or somewhere from whence we I will receive mail from my son. Asking for money.