Thursday, June 23, 2011

Freshman Orientation

I'm watching her float on the raft, her purple bikini complementing the turquoise and blue of the water and the sky and the raft itself.  She has her smart-phone in one hand and she's texting with the other as the breeze blows her from wall to wall to wall to wall.

It's a delicate balancing act when she needs a drink - there is gentle paddling and soft pushing and no help is needed as she maneuvers herself and her device over to the cold water bottle I just brought out from the 'fridge.

Tomorrow is orientation at the UofA and Kitty, the little Wildcat, will be a freshman.  I'm wondering what she's thinking as she lies there, motionless, french manicured fingers and orange painted toes peeking out of the water as she floats in my backyard.  I knew her when she was in diapers and now she's going to train to be a nurse and I don't know where the years have gone.

Not-Kathy, her mother, is doing business on the phone in the house.  I am typing to you.  Our lives are continuing.  She is starting her new adventure.  There's a different vibe.

Right now mother and daughter are discussing the wisdom of carrying a cell phone while floating in a pool.  Kitty is confident and Not-Kathy is worrying and in truth it's so much more than the damage to a portable communications device which is being discussed.  She is going off on her own.  Mom won't be there to protect her.  There are a lot of lessons still to be learned; cell-phones-in pools is just the tip of the iceberg.

We've covered drinking and STD's and sororities and the marching band and they've only been here for an hour.  Mom's got opinions and so does Kitty and I am enjoying my perch on the outside looking in.  Not-Kathy is right, of course, except that it's not her life.  Kitty is stubborn and that's her prerogative as she leaves high school behind and strikes out on her own.  It's not entirely unreasonable that Kitty wants to see a football game from the stands instead of while holding a snare drum.  Mom's not wrong to encourage talent especially when she knows that the kid loves playing.

I'm having a good time watching.

Kitty will leave tonight with a list of the professors I've loved in my Seminars on campus and my cell phone number.  Our door (and our pool) will be open to her whenever she feels the need.  Or is in the mood.  Or is lonely.  Or bored. Or wants a quiet place to hang out and sort through her thoughts.

We have no expectations of one another.  We're forging a relationship out of scraps of shared people and places.

The fun is just beginning.


  1. That's so awesome that Kitty will have someone close by that she knows while at college. My niece started college this past year and she was extremely lonely and homesick. Having you there for Kitty will help her when she has those moments. I think we all had them at one point in college--at least I know I did.

    Sending hugs!

    Megan xxx

  2. Our oldest grandson will start college in 2 years and will be only 10 miles from us. I hope he will take advantage of our pool, meals and laundry - but I somehow doubt it. You're lucky to have her near.

  3. I don't envy Not-Kathy, except to the extent that, when the most worrisome times are past, I know she'll have the delight of relating to a truly adult daughter. I don't envy Kitty. No, wait. That's a lie. College was wonderful! I am entirely clear that I crave the pool.

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