Bruce and I took Travis back to school yesterday, and I’m feeling some anxiety about his living off campus in a house with six other boys this year. I should have asked more questions during this summer. I should have made Travis sit down with me and plan what he needed to take with him, what his roommate would take, provided the cleaning supplies, niceties like a shower curtain and curtains for the windows myself. I almost made a bunch of meals to put in the freezer for him to take just so I would know he was eating well. I worry about him.
He’s my youngest son, the last of my boys in college, and he will be the last to leave the nest. Erik graduated this past May, but he never wanted to live off campus—too much of a hassle to cook and shop and clean his own place. He preferred to have that taken care of. I was happy with that arrangement too. I knew where he was—more or less—and I knew there was relative safety surrounding him on campus. This January he leaves to join the Navy. I’ll begin worrying about him then. For now he is home, safe under my wing. Travis, however, is out in the big world, at least in the big city.
I know he is excited to be on his own, and there are six other boys to keep him company, but I’m a country girl, always have been. I get nervous just thinking about a city. I love the conveniences, but I don’t like all the locked doors, the looking behind you when you hear footsteps, the loud noises, the traffic. It seems a scary place to me, but Travis and Erik seem to revel in the size and number of people in the city. They like the big campus, the concerts, the number of things to do at all hours.
I try to remember when I was in college, but that time was long ago. Athens, Georgia, is not the size of Minneapolis, Minnesota, either. I remember how much fun I had and staying out till all hours of the night, but I only lived off campus for one year. That was enough. Being off campus separates you from the life on campus. I don’t want that for Travis. I want him to do well in his classes, to be able to study when he needs to, to get to class even when he wakes up late. He doesn’t even have room for a desk in his house now. I worry.
My husband thinks I’m silly to worry so much, but last night I couldn’t sleep thinking of Travis out there by himself, walking to and from late classes alone. I’m not even sure he has a key yet to his house. I left him with his girlfriend Amy by the steps of his house. It has no shrubs, no grass. On either side of his house, the other two houses looked homey and were nicely landscaped; one even had some rhubarb and cucumbers growing in the yard and pots of flowers next to the front door. I couldn’t help wishing Travis were living in either one of those houses instead.
During one of our only moments alone sitting on the front stoop, I asked Travis whether he liked his house. He said yes, but I think he was trying to reassure me. He admitted it would be better when all the boys got there and were settled with their things put away. I agreed. But it was hard to leave him there so unsettled. I felt as though he was adrift and needed me but was not going to ask for any help. I waved to him as we pulled away, and Amy waved back, then Travis did. I have to get used to the fact that he doesn’t need me as he once did. He’s growing up. Well, actually, he is grown up. I know I must let go, but he’s my baby. I still see the little boy in the man he is becoming, and I miss both of them.
Although he will think it is too soon, I can’t wait to talk to him today, to see how everything is working out. I’ve already made a list of things I need to send to him next week, and I’m sure I’ll see him again when I go to Junk Bonanza with my friends. By then I hope my anxiety has eased, and I hope he will be settled. I hope also that I will finally sleep well tonight knowing he is okay. But I also know that I will always worry. That is a mother’s fate.