Long ago I would walk past a row of houses and wonder about the people who lived in them. One in particular always struck me, it looked to be lived in by people a little older. I imagined them in their late 50s or 60s, their children grown, the house settled and tidy and peaceful. As I looked at the house I would think of how it would feel to be those people, to come home to quiet, to only have to do for ourselves and not for children. Something about it appealed to me as I pushed one child in a buggy and another walked along beside, or more likely raced on ahead. We would take this walk every week day during term time as we travelled to and from nursery school. The child racing ahead was four, the one in the buggy was two.
Tonight the child racing ahead is preparing to do the same again except this time he is no longer four years old but twenty. His room is almost empty, his belongings packed and sitting on the dining room table, or around it, waiting to be packed into the car tomorrow morning for the trip to university to begin his second year. He has said goodbye for now to his friends and is in that limbo time, eager to get going, a little sad to be leaving, aware of how time keep moving inexorably forward in a way he wasn’t when he was a child.
The little boy has become a young man but still lives, four years old running a little ahead of me home from nursery. Still is a child of even younger years having to stand on a crossbar of an easel in order to reach up to paint. Still a tot trying to get in to a rabbit hutch or being only just the right side of gentle touching a Shetland pony on the face to see how it feels.
Tomorrow a couple of journeys will be needed to take clothes and bedding and the truly important things, records, yes I do mean vinyl, and films, a speaker and two guitars.
His bedroom is already almost empty, only some clothes he doesn’t want to take and the bed on which he sleeps. It already carries a chill not from the sudden drop in temperature as we truly get in to Autumn but laden with the absence of departure even though he is still here.
The days of a house full of little children, trailing around after me, following me everywhere are gone, now it is full of young people ready to begin their journeys and us two, facing the quiet house. Not just yet but soon.
In the meantime Mum can send something off to uni with her son, a taste of home in the form of banana muffins because everyone has a favourite and they are his.
© 2012, Penbleth / L. McG.-E.. All rights reserved.