Long-timers here might remember my angst, four years ago around this time, over dropping off my older son at college for the first time.
Well, today was the sequel … and like most every sequel, it didn’t hit quite so hard the second time around.
(Not yet, anyway. There’s still time.)
Today my wife and I drove into the middle of Manhattan to drop off my younger son for his freshman year of college.
That’s all the kids we got … so with the older one still finishing off in Boston this year (he switched majors so he’s on the five-year plan), the house is officially empty of kids, at least for a while, in a way it hasn’t really been before.
Just the two of us. And not in a romantic Grover Washington Jr. kind of way … more like, every recipe we’ve ever liked is now too big by half. But we’ll figure that out.
Anyway, to get back to the younger kid: I’ve enjoyed getting to know him as a young adult, because in some ways he is very much like me, and in other ways he is diametrically opposed.
Nothing expresses the “diametrically opposed” part quite like his decision to go to school in my least favorite city — a place I have been dreading driving into and out of for months now.
(In recent weeks, I have joked that any paternal sadness I felt on the day of drop-off would be outweighed by my massive relief at successfully driving into and out of New York City … assuming I actually managed to get in and out, and didn’t get towed to some dark hell-corner of Staten Island and flogged with hoses, or something like that.)
But, what was I gonna do? Kill his dream? Tell him he had to go to some backwater town like State College just so I could have an easier time getting in and out twice a year? Nope.
As it turned out, the drive in wasn’t all that bad — especially on a Sunday morning; I hope all his future comings and goings can be timed on a similar schedule.
The last three blocks or so took about 45 minutes, but you get to a point where it can’t be helped. You’re in New York City and there are dozens of people trying to drop off their kids in the same place. The college has a decent system in place to handle it, so you get in line, and you wait.
And the goodbye … well, it’s never easy per se, and of course we miss his voice in the family chorus. But this is the kind of kid who enjoys independence, and who would probably have gone to college at 11 if he could have. I think he has a few jitters now that the dream has turned real. Once he finds his feet and gets to know his way around, I imagine that will go away.
(If it never does — if he finds he’s chosen incorrectly in some way — he can always transfer; I’ve told him that’s not the end of the world. Of course, God knows where else he’ll have me driving if he gets a second choice.)
# # # # #
Last time around there was a song; and this time around there will also be a song.
The full backstory of the song is complex and not really worth recounting. Suffice to say that this is the singer-songwriter Father John Misty, covering Taylor Swift’s song “Welcome to New York” in the style of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. Misty’s vocal impression of a young Reed is glorious verging on eerie.
It’s been waiting for you. Welcome: