My middle daughter has retreated to the heartland for college. It's been a few weeks. A few very rocky, bumpy weeks. During their first session this morning, her CAPS counselor, if they could be called counselors, said: "Why did you even come here? You knew this college campus wasn't Chicago, right?" She did. When I casually asked for his last name, she wisely refused to share. This ursine mother hasn't learned the lesson about remaining silent when it comes to Adults Behaving Badly To My Daughters (after yoga classes, on busses, at frat parties ...).
Without the ability to apparate or the bank account to jump on a rescue plane, I've taken to lunging for my phone every time she calls, which is, thankfully, often. #codanomore. I pick up. During meetings, in the bathroom, while driving, on the elliptical. I bark shout into the phone when the reception sucks. I care not about fellow people in line. DON'T YOU KNOW MY DAUGHTER IS SAD? THIS IS (MORE) IMPORTANT (THAN YOU)! I somehow manage to say all the wrong things. When she is sobbing, for example, because the sister with whom she bickered constantly isn't taking her calls. Or when her roommate's hometown boyfriend is coming to stay with them for the weekend ... and bringing his ("possibly cute?") friend. Or when she has to do hard things. Things she's never done before that are hard. Because new is hard for our bear. So strong on the outside; so soft and vulnerable and comfy in the comfort zone, thank you very much, on the inside.
The ocean is vast. Her world is fractured, foreign. Shoreless.
She had the same posse, for the most part, from preschool through senior year in high school. She's grieving the loss, the cocoon of her best friends. When I posit that loss might be what is making her so sad—and share that I understand how it feels to lose best friends—I have not said the wrong thing (this time).
I hear her exhale. I feel her pain. We share loss. Losses. And yet, I know she will be okay. She's with her people—the ones from the heartland who will stand by her side for life. The keepers, like her.
On a completely unrelated note, I tend to gravitate to "my Midwesterners" (as I call them) at work. The under-30 power house across the hall who is soon to be featured in a local magazine because she does things like volunteer at orphanages in the Dominican Republic in her down time ... and her day job is no picnic. She went to Illinois State and loves the State Fair, which gave me an excuse to share one of my favorite heartland tales with her. Here you go ... enjoy:
I want to recount, to process, the seven intakes I did today with female victims of crime experiencing homelessness -- each with a story more horrific than the last. But I can't.
I want to escape to the Rialto. See Peanut Butter Falcon again. But I can't.
I want to believe that the human condition is improving. But I can't.
Here, I am a writer and change agent. Opinions: not vetted. Stories: my own.