My 20-year-old daughter came home from college, deposited the contents of her dorm room around and on top of the dinning room table, monopolized the washer and dryer for two days, and then left for the summer after spending her free time going out with friends and getting her fill of the city.
I managed to have one dinner with her. I hope to break bread with her again in August when she is scheduled to fly through for four days, or maybe in September when she’ll stop in to pick up all her stuff when she heads back to school.
It doesn’t seem she wants to spend much time at home these days. At first I took it personally, that I wasn’t interesting or had bad breath. I thought it might be something unappealing about the place, but I made sure there were clean sheets on her bed and food in the fridge. Maybe it is Brooklyn, except every other college student in the country wants to come here.
Finally it dawned on me that my daughter doesn’t want to hang at home because it isn’t where her life is anymore. After two years of college, she has formed her own network of friends who share interests and ideas, who want to see the same movies, who can speak in shorthand, making easy reference to all the things that went on this past year at school.
These are the people who are going through the same experiences — finding internships and jobs, packing up and moving off for the summer, worrying about their future, and the seemingly huge questions of careers, passions, and where to live. My daughter’s friends have time and desire to go places with no money, wearing dirty clothes and staying in hostels and no-star hotels.
I remember that period of my life fondly and can recall that arc of years spending less and less time with my parents, shortening vacations with detours to visit a friend here or there, even beginning to skip holidays at home.
I never really thought about it from my parents’ viewpoint as they each seemingly kept on with the grind of their lives. In fact I thought about them very little day to day. My life was full, intense, demanding, all consuming, and they were no longer part of it.
My daughter is in that place too, engrossed in friendships and projects, and though I may miss her company, she is exactly where she should be.
Suddenly, looking at those piles of her things, her guitar and coffee mugs, makes me feel a little connected to her.
I appreciate her independence and desire to be out in the world.
But I’m looking forward to our next meal together, whenever and wherever it may be, and the chance to hear even a little bit about this life she’s making for herself.