For all the years that I have lived in this house, more than eighteen, I have gone to my right after cleaning my ears with a Q-Tip to throw it away in the trash can next to the bathroom sink. Eighteen years. To the right. Over the summer, we did a little remodeling and now the trash can is on the left. I have to think about it. To the left. When I finish flossing, same thing: to the left. I suppose I could decline to accept my new reality and simply make a pile of used Q-Tips and slobbery floss on the floor next to the sink. On the right. Change, for lack of a better word, is hard.
Which makes me wonder about how things will tumble down when my son moves out of the house to go to college. For the last dozen years or so, I have made a trip to his bedside, five days a week, to nudge him awake to be ready for school. His mother would come in a short time later, after I had gone on my way to start my own day at my school. It was a tag team affair that had the eventual effect of getting him up and on his way on a regular enough basis to get a high school diploma. That diploma, in turn, was his ticket to the college of his choice. The college of his parent's choice, as it turns out too. Not that we knew that during the protracted and agonizing selection process, but it turns out that after years of alternating dreams and ambivalence our son is moving out. And on.
We've been preparing for this even for months. Not like moving a trash can, which turned out to be a logistical inevitability. Moving a son turns out to be less than whimsical. After all those years of going back to wake that kid up, this past Saturday morning I got up and started my weekend the way I have for all those years before: watering the plants. Going past my son's room, the pile of blankets that I generally associate with the lump of sleeping boy turned out to be just a pile of blankets. The boy had awoken for the first time in years before his parents to sneak out the back door on his way to meet up some friends for cars and coffee. By the time his mother and I were aware, he was gone. Change is hard.
That empty bed, upon further reflection, was a lot harder reality to deal with than the trash can. It touched a deeper nerve, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise. I have always had a great deal of fondness for that trash can, but not quite on a par with my own flesh and blood. The good news is that I will have a chance to continue to grow my relationship with the trash can. And even though it will be over Skype and a little more distance, I will continue to strengthen my bond with my son. Change is hard, but I do enjoy a challenge.