My old bff Susan writes that she misses the personal posts. I'm having trouble finding the right line to toe. This has been a crazily emotional time. My day to day is radically different, filled with an outside place to be, people to manage, and goals to understand, then outline and achieve. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. My Austin mainstay, once a living welcome wagon, then our closest friend, is now living in NYC. And my son, my sweet little guy, the youngest of my two children, is graduating from high school. It's the elixir of life. Change and growth and evolution. How exciting!!! What's better than to watch your little one come into their own, full of spit and vinegar, fully emerged to walk their own way? It's a great rush. But deeply emotional too, combined with many levels of loss.
I sit at the Lacrosse Banquet and see my son at the seniors table up front. It's my fourth banquet. It's a crystal clear marker of this time we've spent in Austin and what it's meant for my son. As a stranger, a newbie, this was the tribe that took him in, and gave him a platform. These are the parents that I've sat with, convivial strangers, strangers who carried the load so that my son could shine. His name is called last, the award the tallest, I know it's inevitable when the coach describes this very special kid and his commitment, dedication and constant leadership. It's my son, Season MVP. Again. Of course I'm overwhelmed with pride and pleasure. But also sadness and tears. He did this all on this own. And it took a lot. He had so much to overcome. Physically, logistically, even with me. I used to say, "just quit the damned team! It's too much of a hassle." But of course no, he didn't. And now simply, humbly, he's accepting the coaches and teams' acclaim. Again. I am so proud. And so grateful. And this moment has come to an end.
A week earlier I'm in the school cafeteria, where I've barely been. Sad about that too. Remembering my own high school, considering all the ways I could have been a part of this one. But no, my life in Austin has been chock full of the film world, not my kid's high school. We're there for the academic awards. Trustee award. Check. Scholar-Athletes. Check. My son's girlfriend gets something from the Principal - I think it's for best all-around leader and I'm thrilled to have a routing interest. Then a marine calls my son and the girlfriend's names and we're all confused though we laugh at the pairing. My son is laughing the hardest. What the ???!!! Oh... we deduce, must be the top two scholar athletes, one from each gender. All the h.s. kids here are amazing. Several raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards to pay for college. I've loving watching my son banter with whoever he's next to as the lines change. I love hearing the whoops and hollers as his name is called. The kids get up one by one to parade around the room as their college choice and major is read off an index card. It's a major celebration, one they're not too cool to enjoy. These are great kids. Kids who've worked hard. Kids who've served. Kids' who've led. And I can't believe I'll no longer have access to this very particular kind of moment.
Last night was a backyard party with the high school steel drum band. High School Steel Drum Band!!! They certainly didn't have that at my high school. It's a totally diverse group of kids grooving for hours. They sound great. They look great. My son's pal Evan a particular delight as music bursts from him, his showmanship dominating. I'm in a backyard with families full of history. We're the newcomers but welcomed for this fleeting moment. I'm thrown back to the graduation parties of my own youth, 35 years ago. More grist for the mill.
Our kids have consumed us for almost 21 years. We love them excruiatingly. Every single moment, every single phase. We loved their wee selves. We love who they are now. As my son celebrates this newest landmark, this series of victories and parties and graduation. It's the very definition of bittersweet.