And so we unpack. One box after another of my daughter’s stuff. And I get somewhat awed by how much life she has had since she left home to go to college some eight years ago. I flip through a book of photos that a friend of hers made for her. Such memories. Hers, not mine.
My older girl’s here, too, but I’ve known for a while with her that I no longer have a grasp of the small or sometimes even large details of her life. And really, I’m pleased with all of this. Independence is a good thing. And still, it is slightly disconcerting to step in now, a guest really, touching details of a life that is very much moving forward (as it has been for years) on its own.
We unpack some more. She has been a collector of household items, waiting, patiently waiting for the moment when she would have her own home. And now, finally she does and it all comes out. The kitchen timer that I gave her a couple of Christmases ago. The delicate bowls from Japan. Mixed in with this and that, collected, along with her own memories, her own resources.
In returning from one of the numerous runs out to take out broken down cardboard and sacks full of packing paper, I take a detour to the roof of her three story walk up apartment building. What a view!
The funny thing is that when I was way younger than my littlest one, not even old enough to legally buy myself a drink at a local tavern, I moved to the south of Chicago and I rented a studio with a similar view, only from the south side.
We’re all old enough to buy a drink, any drink now and in the evening, we go to the Big Star. Just a quick walk from her place. It's a hell of a great taco bar and they serve mixed drinks that have components I’d never even heard of. Both daughters have been there before and I think -- when? I mean, I'm sure I heard some recount or other -- names floating by me, names without connection, without meaning because I was elsewhere and they were moving along their own path. When did all this happen?
I watch my girls and I think – these are really good kids. I can retire now. Even as I understand that I'll never retire. One more box, and another, and yet another.
One more day here and then I go back to my own warm home, to wait patiently until one comes over, or the other, or I take the bus again and then the El to this now important corner of the world.