from The Trespasser by Tana French

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The air smells tasty and restless, all those places you could spend your evening, all the things waiting to happen inside those beckoning open doors. P 431

I didn’t take a picture of T standing in front of the house for the last time. I wanted to, but I let the feeling slip away from me.

I recently read that the reason we close our eyes when we kiss is so the other senses will take over. If I close my eyes now I smell the popcorn, and I hear the raucous excitement from the kids who are eager for the entertainment to start. For his birthday last week we took T to Montpelier to see the circus. It’s one of our family traditions. The three of us strolled down the street holding hands, chatting, looking in windows; meandering along. We arrived a little early and stood in a line waiting to be let in. Inside the tent the heat was almost unbearable. For much of the country it’s been oppressively hot these past few days. Here stepping outside after being near a fan or an air conditioner feels like walking into a wet blanket.

But I’ve started to wonder if the everpresent humidity isn’t a comfort of sorts. A kind of swaddling. Maybe it’s a cocoon that I’m not ready to break free from. That comfortable caterpillar contentedness that comes from having all your feet on the ground. Rationally you know that butterflies have winged freedom, but there’s a danger in taking to the sky.

Still there’s that nudging feeling that something is waiting. That soon enough life will be even more different than you could possibly imagine. That even though you’re less likely to get hurt crawling around on the ground, moving forward is the risk you’re ready to take. These next few weeks we’ll be leaping into the unknown.

I can’t believe that T won’t come back to this house. He knows that we will be boxing up his things and that when he comes back it will be to the new house 10 miles up the road. He didn’t make a big deal of it, just closed the front door like he always does and made his way down to the car. The car filled to overflowing with his sheets and towels, ties, suspenders, juggling equipment and school supplies.

It didn’t take long to get to school, which was a lovely surprise. And an even shorter time to get the car unpacked and everything up to his room.  Then it was time to go. I cried, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone.

On the way home M and I listened to A View from the Cheap Seats. During one of his speeches, in a serendipitous moment, Neil told us that if we did our job right, the children we raised would leave us. True enough, I’m sure. Still, it hurts.

Hurts in a way I didn’t think was possible.

I’m still a little sad I didn’t grab that last minute shot of T while I had the chance. But I did grab this one when we stopped for ice cream. One look at that smile and I’m reassured. When we dropped him off at school, every student we encountered yelled his name loudly and then ran in for a hug. He was happy to be back, ready for whatever this next year brings. The doors are indeed open, beckoning us all to come through.

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