He’s Leaving

29 Mar






Winslow Homer, Startled, Philadelphia Art, Public Domain via Wikimedia


What does it mean to lose time? If you write a blogpost and it wasn’t quite done, but you closed your computer and it disappeared, do you lose time? Did you just go backwards? Or is the writing still there, an idea that you worked out in your brain? Maybe that time isn’t wasted, but the time regretting it, looking fruitlessly for writing that no longer exists, is. I should have written it by hand. I should have saved it. It’s got to be somewhere. I’m stupid. My therapist says, “Should is SHIT,” and slams the table with her pad. And then she laughs. She’s right. I couldn’t bear to write for a day because of my lost work. Was that good? I don’t know. Lately I’ve been feeling as if I’m in a whirlwind.


My son number 2 is going away, for six months. He’s leaving tomorrow, for six months. I wish I could think of the words to say that will keep him safe. He’s going to lead a rugged life—workng on a ship in Maine. He’ll be sandpapering, refinishing the boat, getting it ready for passengers, then sailing on it as a cook/deckhand. For now, he will be staying in an unheated boat while there is snow in the ground. Oh child, will you be all right? Strangely, I think he’s going to be better off in that rough life of fixing up a boat, freezing, smellng the fresh ocean air, than he is in the comfortable room he’s inhabited, at times ungratefully, for the last year. He hated the color of his room, a bright orange. We told him if he wanted to, he could paint it some other color. But he was too lazy. He didn’t have the heart for it. He was bitter that his brother got the smaller room. And that, of course, made my other son NEVER want to trade places.


So yesterday I bought him a Bear Grillz knife, a belt, boots, thick socks, a green bandanna. Will they keep him safe? Will he make friends? Will he take joy in the daily tasks and in the sight of the ever-changing ocean, the spruce covered islands, in the learning of how to tie a knot, the beauty of a flapping sail?

He’s going tomorrow and I feel heaviness pulling me down into the mattress as I write. I don’t have my old blogpost and I don’t have the heart to work any more on this one. He doesn’t belong in his ugly orange room anymore. In fact, I’m taking it over. I’m going to make it my office. Maybe I’ll paint it new colors. Life is changing. This boy, he drove me crazy sometimes. I worried about him. But he’s doing something brave and tough and his back is straight and tall. He’s calling me by my first name this week. “Alexandra, the hats are over here.” I want to tell him to take care of that cut on his finger. To wear that hat in the cold. And gloves, does he have gloves? I stuff it back down and make a joke. Maybe he didn’t like being in the orange room after high school. But maybe he needed that time. It wasn’t lost. Only regretting it would be. He certainly pulled himself together. And maybe I should have done something different to help him. I’ll never know. I just know that whatever I did, I did while loving him. Besides, “shoulds are SHIT.”

And off he goes, far from the shore where I stand.


Writing Prompt: How did you feel when someone you love left?

3 Responses to “He’s Leaving”

  1. Kaffiend March 30, 2014 at 12:31 am #

    Your loveliest post yet. Forget the lost work. This is wonderful.

  2. fransiweinstein March 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    Love this post. You made me think of my parents who probably died a thousand deaths, first when I moved to my own apartment and then to Toronto from Montreal. Your son will be fine. He’ll probably never even feel the cold. It’s only old fogies like us who do 🙂

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