The Quiet

It’s quiet.

It’s just the same as it used to always be here in our house….two kids amusing themselves, windows open on an unseasonably warm fall day, homework done, husband at work.  Relaxing.  Peaceful.  Blissfully quiet.

Except that now all of that quiet seems disconcerting.  Too quiet.

It’s because my eldest, Zachary, is gone.

Zachary graduated from college last May.  He went away to school, far away, to the University of Pittsburgh.  On a good day it would take us seven hours to drive out there.  He spent the summer there working at an internship that he had hoped would turn into a full time position.  It didn’t, and so we moved him and four years of his life back home in early August.

At first it was strange to have him here after him being away for so long.  In the past he always had something to do:  school, or music practice, or a job, or friends to see.  But this time, all of his friends were away working or still in college.  And he didn’t have a job; his only task every day was to find full time employment.  He traveled to interviews, did them on the phone and on Skype.  The weeks past, frustratingly empty of job offers.  The school year began, and for the first time since Zachary was five, he didn’t have anywhere to go.  He grew frustrated, unhappy, but continued every day to apply for more work.

And then finally, it happened.  A company in the Washington, DC area asked him for an interview, and then a second.  They emailed him writing samples and Excel spreadsheets to work through.  They asked him to travel there for an in person interview.  He didn’t get his hopes up, because he’d been there before, taking a bus down the Jersey Turnpike and waiting in traffic.  But this time was different:  five days later he received the job offer.

I marveled as I watched my son do all the grown up tasks involved with deciding upon employment.  He reached out to a friend to see if they could be roommates.  He made a budget and researched cost of living.  He mapped out his mass transit route to work.  He scoured the internet to gauge how much his car insurance, his gas, his taxes would be.  He asked us which pieces of furniture he would inherit and planned out a living situation.

He accepted the job.

So this weekend, he packed up the car we gave him for his college graduation, and he drove down to DC from our tiny little town in CT.  All by himself.  And just like that, he is living a whole different life.  Last week he was here watching my little guy during my daughter’s soccer practice, and tomorrow he’ll be putting on a suit and tie and collecting a paycheck.  It’s mind boggling.  It’s exhilarating.   It’s bittersweet.

Zachary is living the life that I never had the chance to live after college.  I have to perspective to gauge any of it by; when I was his age, I was substitute teaching and caring for him and my mother with cancer.  I never picked out an apartment, or chose to live away from my family.   He has choices I never even dreamed of, and I am continually amazed at how far we’ve all come.  Life could have been very, very different for him, and for me.

So I will remind myself that the quiet is good, today.  But you’ll forgive me if I also remember that it is a little sad, too.

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