Life is a series of milestones. When you’re young, it’s things like learning to drive, or the first time you get to vote. Turning 21 and being able to drink legally is also a big one. Once that milestone passes, the events become less age defined. Like a first apartment or a job. Getting married or having a child. But these are common things that so many experience, and they’re visible to the world. As I’ve gotten older, the milestones are a little less obvious.
This Thanksgiving, our oldest son drove 14 hours, from the city where he goes to school and lives with his girlfriend, to spend the holiday with us. They’re both students and while they’re doing fine, but disposable income isn’t something they just throw around. When we see them, we try to help ease things in various ways, but since we’re moving out of the country, we offered them their pick of what’s in our home. This seemed pretty straight forward, but it was surprising emotional.
Electronics run on different hrtz (sp?) and wattages. I’ll stop right there because I know almost nothing about how it all works, but Jeff and Ryan do. Suffice to say, we can’t take most of what would plug in to an outlet. So we gave Ryan and Olga our relatively new 4K TV. And we offered them all the video game systems we had collected over the years.
Seems innocuous enough, but as we were packing them up, the memories flooded back. The Christmas where we finally found a Game Cube on Ebay and the games we sat and played as a family that year. The Wii we discoved on a back shelf at Toys-r-Us after they had been cleaned out, and the hours of fun we had playing Wii sports or Dance Dance Revolution. Or Guitar Hero and my terrible singing. It was silly and crazy, but we had a lot of fun. I teared up thinking about those times, as he located cords and controllers. Times that were now officially over.
As we filled their car – a Volkswagon beetle – right to the very top, and I stood with my husband to wave goodbye as they drove away, I realized it was one of those key, quiet moments in life. No fanfare. No one else would notice, but we did. Jeff turned to me.
‘It feels weird to be on the other side. We used to go to your parents and we’d leave with a car full of stuff. Now we’re doing the same with our kids.’
I sniffed. ‘It does feel weird. But I’m glad they took those video games. Its stupid, but I would feel strange giving all those memories away to someone else. They wouldn’t appreciate how much we had to scrape together at times to buy’em for the kids. Or their faces on Christmas morning when they saw them under the tree.’ I had tears in my eyes at the memory.
I guess it would happen anyway, whether we were moving or not. But making this choice has sped up the sorting and it brings up a lot of emotions that are usually easy to ignore on a daily basis. Time passes and while we’re moving out of the country, it has compressed that realization into a few months, rather than years.
I called my Mom afterwards. I didn’t say anything about it, but I wanted to hear her voice. She and I are on the same side now. We aren’t the youngsters any more, at the beginning of it all. We’re the car-fillers and the ones who send left-overs home. I wondered when it happened for her. That realization that she was on the Other Side. Maybe it was in the driveway of my childhood home – where they still live. Waving goodbye as I drove off to my apartment in another state. If it was, I know just how she feels.