Friday, August 20, 2010

Changes in Latitude

It has been, to say the least, an eventful few days. Tanya is now officially a college student at the University of Colorado, which makes me, officially, the parent of a college student. I am proud and exhausted and happy and a little melancholy, all at the same time, which is, no doubt, par for the course.

The night before we departed from Boise, about eight of Tanya's best friends from high school slept over. One of Tanya's great gifts is her ability to create wonderful friendships with diverse, talented, and compassionate people. As we set out for the airport on Monday morning, it was a time of copious hugs and tearful farewells. Then I sounded the shofar to mark our departure. I had blown that same sound when Tanya was born, almost nineteen years ago, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Having ushered her into the world with tekiah, the call of the ram's horn, I sent her out into the world of adulthood with an echo of that call. It is said that the shofar recalls the wails of a pregnant woman, the labor of the world being born. And of course new worlds are born all of the time, and new selves, too. All of this was on my mind as we left Boise.

When we arrived in Boulder, we met two of Tanya's friends who are also attending CU, together with their families. Lee is a high school classmate and Dana is a friend from Tanya's semester in Israel. We shared a terrific Moroccan dinner together then went back to our hotels for a much-needed night of sleep.

Tuesday was moving day. Tanya is living in a high-rise dorm about a mile or so off campus. The disadvantage is the distance; the advantage is that it is newer and air-conditioned and seems to foster a kind of strong community spirit among the residents.

We moved her in at 8 am. This entailed lots of unpacking, setting up shelves, and more hangers than I ever envisioned existed on earth. It also was the first time we met Tanya’s roommate, Chrissa. She’s from Chicago. Her mother, Cynthia Bowers, is a national correspondent for CBS evening news, and her father runs the photography department of a major European wire service. The two roommates seem to get along well.

Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with orientation activities for Tanya, back to back sessions on all the expected topics: honor code, sex and drugs and alcohol, sexual harassment, diversity, dorm life, etc. Meanwhile, there were a few sessions for the parents as well. I gleaned some good nuggets there but mostly, these days were filled with shopping. Laura and I purchased so much stuff that Tanya needed: linens, bedding, school supplies, shelving, mirror, hair straightener, toiletries, snacks. . . Of course every other parent was doing the same thing, so the stores were mobbed (hint: if you haven’t done so, buy stock in Bath, Bed and Beyond and, especially, Target.)

In between, we did get to take Tanya out for some very good meals in Boulder, which has a thriving restaurant scene. Boulder is a bustling paradigm of the New West, full of high tech and green businesses, nice shops and restaurants and magnificent mountain scenery. But expect traffic, which is very bad. The best way to get around Boulder is definitely on a bike.

Speaking of which, I bought Tanya a really nice used one . She’ll get good use out of it and was very happy to have it.

Thursday afternoon, Tanya registered for classes. She got some good ones: cultural anthropology, linguistics, philosophy (ethics), political science (global issues). Should be great reading this semester. While she did the registration, Laura and I met with the Hillel director, Hananya Nyberg. He’s young and dynamic and seems to run a good operation. Hopefully, Tanya will go more than her father did;)

All in all, this was one of the most emotional days I’ve experienced in a long time. When the time came to leave, I took Tanya aside and gave her a big hug, told her that I was so proud of her, that I trust her to make good choices, and that I will always be there for her. Then I offered her the priestly blessing, which I have given her practically every Shabbat evening since she was born. Needless to say, as I did this, tears filled my eyes. I’m only just home and already I miss her so much. But I take enormous joy in knowing that she is learning, making friends, off on the great adventure of learning and living that this life provides. We do all we can to set them on a course and then we get to watch and love them and help however we can.

Being a father has been—and continues to be—the greatest privilege of my life. If nothing else, this experience in Boulder will send me home with an even stronger desire to really treasure the days and months and years that I still have at home with Rosa, and with Rachel and Jonah, too.

It really does take a village to raise a child. Thanks to all who are part of my village.



Miriam said...

Glad Tonya is all settled in and ready to start her next great adventure. Our turn to launch a fledgling has just started to come into to distant focus as Ceili starts High School this year. Now I just hope we can find a way to make sure she's as prepared without spending the next four years obsessed with "What Looks Good On A Transcript".

Remember, as you make the adjustment to long distant parent, your village is here to support you too!

Anonymous said...