I spent many hours over the New Year’s holiday helping my son move into yet another college apartment. This time he is in a tiny studio without the roommate riffraff, a choice highlighted by bright windows and his own kitchen. His mood vacillated between excitement and trepidation. Mine was alternately gung ho and over it. This is his fifth living space in two and half years. Each time it seems to get more complicated. Moving is always difficult, but why are we not better at it?
Early twenty-somethings live in a scattered universe. My son was abroad for the Fall quarter and his belongings are equally far flung – in the garage, in every corner of his “also-known-as-the-guest” bedroom, in a giant duffle bag. He has begun to look at our possessions with shifting perspective. What was ridiculous and parental last year is quite useful and necessary now as it disappears into his pile. Things get lost, or are given away, or wear out. Just getting organized, gathering what will be needed to survive, takes days and accumulating charges. Then there is a small car to load, stairs and hallways to navigate, and my growing anxiety about his safety as we witness a rather dodgy business exchange on the sidewalk in front of his building.
I was consoled as we hung pictures on his walls. Any person who uses a level to align a poster with mounting tape can take care of himself. He cooks like his father, spreadsheets like his mother, and has a fierce, brilliant spirit all his own. He creatively arranged his books, clothes, and utensils in ingeniously compact ways. His confidence was contagious. He is on his own again, ready for adventure. I began to think this whole moving over New Year’s Day was a grand metaphor to embrace. Why should I need a class syllabus to feel the same surge of energy? Why can’t my mental space feel like a new lease? Why can’t each new year hold the potential of this new apartment?