Josie graduated from the University of Wisconsin last May but she and her roommates all stayed in their apartment until the lease was up, this weekend. They wanted to spend one last summer enjoying Madison and who can blame them? Their apartment was a wonderful old four bedroom unit above a coffee shop on State Street. Josie’s bedroom window looked right out on the most hoppin’ street in one of the most hoppin’ college towns in the world. The place had an updated kitchen but the hard wood floors, woodwork and high ceilings all kept the character of a more elegant age. Every year that Josie was in school, she upgraded her apartment and there was nowhere better than this last one on State Street but all good thngs come to an end and this was move out weekend.
It’s hard to believe but after thirty years, I’m finally finished being the mother of a student. It’s the end of an era and all I can say is that I’m ready for it. Yes, I feel a bit nostalgic for the little kids that used to be mine but there’s nothing like grandkids to cure a body of that. All the fun and cuteness with none of the responsibility! Why is it so scary to raise your own kids: worrying about how they’ll do and what they’ll become, but so easy to see that obviously the grand kids are destined for nothing but greatness?
It all seems like a blur, now. From Tyler, getting in trouble in kindergarten for doing the wiggle dance in front of his whole gym class, to Josie emceeing her school’s talent show when she was only in second grade, to Katie’s fifth grade teacher saying he fully expected to see her on the cover of Time magazine someday, to Zack’s high school English teacher, at conferences, saying “Oh, I love Zack! He’s so great in class. How do we get him to do any homework?” From preschool soccer games to tee ball to a football state championship, to varsity volleyball, tennis, golf and college basketball, weeks when I felt like all I did was drive kids to and from practice and games…
I’m finished. It’s over.
The last one has gotten her degree.
But graduation was only the first part of that last step. Moving her back home was. So last Saturday, we headed east to help get that job done.
Josie had accumulated more furniture and stuff than would fit in the minivan so we borrowed Tyler’s pickup and reserved a small U-Haul trailer in Madison. We got up at the crack of dawn. It was a gorgeous, clear day and there was no traffic so we made very good time.
As usual, I was struck by how beautiful a drive it is between Minneapolis and Madison. The rolling hills, forests, farms and rivers are so picturesque, they seem fake. Saturday, driving into a perfect sunrise, with mist rising from the rivers as we drove over, I felt like I was on a movie set, or in a cartoon.
We hit the road at 6:15 and even with picking up the trailer, we were at Josie’s apartment by 11:00. We’d have been there even earlier if we hadn’t had to drive around the block three times before we found her apartment. We’d been there in May but it’s a nondescript door in the middle of a street full of shops and restaurants and we missed it the first time.
There was a cellist sitting in the shade across the street all morning. He played Ave Maria and it was lovely. Not quite as cool as hearing it played on the violin outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, but close.
When they were done securing the return of their deposits, Jay bought Josie’s friends their own smoothies and we all took a moment to savor the past, the day and the future.
Eventually, it was time to say goodbye. There were no tears but lots of hugs.
We got on the road at about 1:30.
We’d have been quicker but at a red light about a block from her apartment, Josie hopped out of the pickup, yelled “so long, suckas!” and ran off into the crowd, headed for State Street.
We tracked, tranqued and tagged her, tossed her in the bed of the pickup and floored it.
Actually, she discovered she’d left her keys on the table where we’d had our tea and it was far easier and quicker for her to get them on foot and meet us on the next block. She did yell “So long, suckas!” as she slammed the car door. We circled the block for the fifth time that morning. We were getting good at it, even with a trailer full of furniture. I’m just surprised we didn’t hit or run over anything or anyone. It was kind of hair raising. Good thing Jay was driving. He’s bald.
The weather held and so did the traffic; it was clear sailing all the way home. We listened to Hamilton, sang along and were home in record time. Then the horror of the day hit me; we had to unload.
fortunately, Zack was home from his own trip to Wisconsin (he’d been in a disc golf tournament since Thursday), so we got everything stashed upstairs, downstairs, in the garage or in the little bedroom before I collapsed in exhaustion.
Josie is home.