Monday, September 28, 2015

Empty Nesters: Sacrificing Your Only Son For Art

Late afternoon on Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine
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The time finally came, we knew it would but we tried not to dwell on it, that time when your only child goes off to college and leaves you and your spouse alone for the first time in nearly two decades. 


It wasn’t a given, Wynn wanted to study industrial design and there are several good schools right here in Philadelphia that offer it. I suppose I always imagined he'd go to one of the local schools and live at home for at least the next few years but Wynn wanted to go to RISD and damn if he didn’t get accepted! 

Reid Beach State Park
Move in day was Sept. 6th so we decided to spend a week visiting our friends Peter and Meagan and their sons Dae and Noah who live in Maine and another week camping in Acadia National Park then move Wynn into his dorm room in Providence, RI on our way back home.

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We were joined in Maine by our friends Marlene and Stephen and their son Louis and daughter Maureen who live in Germany. We had visited them last summer spending time in Freiberg, visiting Berlin and then riding bicycles to the town of Usedom on the Baltic Sea.
 
Pete had introduced us to Marlene and Stephan over twenty years ago when we all lived in West Philadelphia.  Wynn and Louis were born just a few months apart and had played together when they were toddlers. Marlene, Stephan and Louis moved backed to Germany after Marlene was offered a position at The University of Freiberg.

 
 
Echo Lake, Acadia National Park
We would spend the first week at Pete’s, making day trips that would include hanging out at local beaches, shopping and dining in the nearby town of Bath, visiting Pete’s mother Natalie, who lives by the Kennebec River and taking a ferry to the island of Vinalhaven. Then we packed the van and headed north to Acadia.


It was a scenic, three-hour drive from Woolwich to Acadia where we would pitch our tents at the Blackwoods campground. Each day consisted of hiking one of the many trails followed by a swim in the cold water of the Atlantic off  Sand Beach or in the slightly warmer water of Echo Lake which is located on what the locals call “The Quite Side” of the Island.  

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First day at RISD
The last leg our journey involved driving to Providence and helping Wynn set up his dorm room and assemble his bicycle before attending the official RISD welcome for first year students held in the historic First Baptist Church. There were several speakers including President Rosanne Somerson who at the close of her remarks told us to meet our son or daughter on the lawn for ice cream, then tell them goodbye, adding “They are ours now.”

It's only been three weeks since we dropped Wynn off and so far so good. He seems to like it there and it sounds like they're keeping him pretty busy. He is even considering joining the RISD cycling team. He calls or texts everyday, let's see how long that lasts, and we will be going up to visit in October for Parent's weekend.

I had a dream last week where I was working the backyard and I heard him call out "Hey!" and I turned to see him walking up the steps from the street so yeah, I guessI miss him.

 I console myself with fact that Wynn is where he wants to be and doing what he wants to do. I also know he will fit right in with all the other artsy, fartsy weirdos at RISD. I also remember the words of a friend who is also the parent of a son who went away to college, "With summer break, spring break and all the holidays they'll still be home six months of the year anyway."

First Day at RISD, Courtyard outside the dorm.

Oh and did I mention Wynn left us with several hundred thousand honeybees and eight chickens?  

If you have had a son or daughter go off to college, or are a student away from home for the first time leave a comment and let me know how you dealt, or are dealing with the transition. 

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2 Comments:

Blogger Sandy said...

Wonderful blog post, Addison. Wynn's neighbors miss him too. The passing parade of people and dogs is not the same without Wynn going to and from the bus for school or work.
I never had to deal with being an empty nester, but I can tell you that as a camper and college student we sure liked getting care packages from home. My mom's blondies were the best. No pressure.

September 28, 2015 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger pastjay said...

Addison, they come back. Our daughter, Natalie, couldn't wait to get out of the house and for four, five years of college she lived on her own, either in the dorm or apartments in Fishtown, North Philly and University City. And then, one day, the boyfriend moved out and she was back in the nest! And even though I now have to put on a bath robe to go to the shower it's been nice having her here, even if she rarely does the dishes and won't eat anything made with onions.

September 29, 2015 at 10:17 PM  

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