My mother cried when she said goodbye to me at Union Station yesterday. This is not unusual. In fact, it's expected of my mother for all major events -- college, travel abroad, new jobs, moving, weddings, well-executed dinner parties, and so on.
Yesterday's farewell, however, was *not* a major event. It was the end of a lovely weekend visit, and consisted of one big hug and kiss before I see her again in a month. One month. Yet there she was, mascara smeared, nose sniffling, hugging me every two steps, and blaming the whole hot mess on hormones.
The other passengers kindly ignored us. And I knew it wasn't hormones.
Right now, you're probably thinking I'm an insensitive clod who doesn't appreciate parental devotion and the vagaries of female emotions, and thus doesn't deserve such a loving and arugula-bearing mother. Au contraire, dear readers. It was all I could do not to cry myself at the first sight of her tears, while the nagging catch in my throat poked holes in my cheery goodbyes.
The truth is, my mother's sudden leaking at Gate K tapped into a much deeper emotional vein for me, one I'd been struggling with since I finished moving my stuff out of my parents' house. Yes, I am seeing her and Dad again in a month -- but that's still one month. For however quickly the time passed in retrospection, 30 days can be a helluva long time to wait to see/hug/catch up with people you once saw/hugged/caught up with every day.
The homesickness -- or people-sickness, as it were -- extends beyond my parents. There's my whole circle of relatives that I can't join for family parties, lunch, or impromptu get-togethers. And we won't even get into my friends -- a few of them my "bests," many high school pals, work pals, singing groups, and more, all of whom I no longer get to be with in my regular comings and goings.
Indeed, the task of staying in touch is daunting. There are simply too many people, and out of sight is more out of mind than I realized. College transience kept much of this reality at bay, because it was a manufactured and temporary situation. But this move, from Philly to DC, is real life. My adulthood is irreversible. I could live here for many years to come, or perhaps move even further. Even more than the long-distance, the uncertainty tightens my chest, and makes me wonder if I made the right decision.
Of course, you sometimes don't gain the perspective and experience to judge such decisions' value until you've taken the risk. I could very well adjust to living outside of Philly within another 6 months. I might never get used to it. I might be able to live with it, and plan visits accordingly. Or I might have to move back as the only answer to that need.
I'm not leaning in any direction right now; it's really too soon to tell. I'm simply explaining why I wanted to cry right along with my mother in Union Station, and why I suddenly felt far more adult and responsible than I cared to at that moment. My life is here. My life is now. And the thrill of change is tempered (balanced?) by the ache of growing pains.
No return ticket here. One month will pass. We'll visit. Then we'll plan the next visit. And I'm confident my mother will cry. How wonderful to know the best things in life never change.