Seventeen years ago, a small girl bravely set foot on her first school bus. On her way to half-day kindergarten, dressed in a pretty, stiff new dress, a small bow in her carefully brushed hair… freshly scrubbed face. The Girl had that look. A perfect mixture of anxiety, fear, determination… and excitement.
Tonight? i saw it again. On the face of a beautiful 22 year old woman. Leaving her at the security check point, she was off to board a flight to Rome, and following a 12 hour layover, flying to Beirut, Lebanon. After four years on the Dean’s List, working toward a dual degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, she’s off to spend Fall term at a foreign university – immersed in the language and culture that will serve as a foundation for her career. Her life.
On the drive, she kept saying “it doesn’t seem real yet” and “it was such an abstract concept, I can’t believe I’m really leaving.” But in that moment at the airport, it became real. The same kid who headed off for three weeks on her own in Morocco last summer, and two years ago sailed around the world on an academic voyage, was facing the reality that she’s going halfway around the world. Alone. To Study.
So proud of her… And – as always – anxious about letting go. Although this time the bus has wings*. i won’t be there at the end of the day to listen to her excited recitation about her first day at school. Suspect i’ll get an e-mail in a couple days.
Here’s to The Girl. And a flattened world. To peace, love and cultural understanding. And to bravely facing adventure… And letting go…
* Not only wings, but a digital personal entertainment system in the seatback, meals – and for the first time for this kid, in flight booze. *sniff, sniff* They grow up soooooo fast….