For the past several days the refrain of a Grateful Dead song has been running through my head — “What a long strange trip it’s been.” This week has been spent readying my daughter to move into college. Caroline is attending the university where I work and even though I can look up at her dorm window when I drive on and off campus, life will not be the same. My parenting after 19 years will be changed forever.
Her Dad and I moved her in on Friday, which seemed to take forever. And then when it was time to say goodbye after I made up her bed just the way she likes it, my eyes welled up. I was so struck by the moment and I hugged her tight. Her Dad tugged me out of the room and we walked down the stairs to avoid the other parents so I could compose myself. We spent most of the day at school Saturday attending sessions on academics and how to be a parent of a young adult. The overriding theme of the day — LET GO. I am listening to this while I am texting my child about her whereabouts and dinner plans.
Now that I have no one to be accountable for at meal times or even keeping a stocked larder, I need to think about my food shopping and preparation. When this time of my life came into sight about a year ago, I would joke with my friends and tell them, all I would need is a roast chicken from Costco and a container of greens and I would be all set. Now that time is here, the Costco chicken still is appealing, but I know I will soon tire of eating just that.
Omelets are good. Hot dogs are out. I remember being at a hair salon and overhearing a woman talking about living alone and cooking for herself. I was impressed with her dedication. I could cook on the weekend and stockpile food in the refrigerator and freezer.
But I will put off thinking about all this and instead focus on other things. More yoga. More time to read. More time to really explore food in an experimental way that is less focused on actually putting a meal on the table. One dream I have had for years is to learn how to make the perfect pie crust. I think I will work on it this fall. I want figure out how to make a cassoulet, an authentic one.
Already Caroline has been home twice. She has been to my office several times too. Tonight she returned and was shocked I wasn’t here. So I am thinking that perhaps I will be doing more meal preparation than I originally had planned.