Diamondqueen, the Hooligans, and I have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack almost non-stop all year. J.Hooligan, though, is a very sensitive soul; there are some songs he simply can’t stand to listen to because they make him sad. Diamondqueen told me he couldn’t stand to listen to “Dear Theodosia” (see below). When I took J. for his birthday ribs, the song came on in the car, and I asked him why it made him so sad. He said, “He’s singing to his son, and his son dies.”
I replied, “Listen to it at least one more time where Hamilton is singing to his son. That’s exactly how we all felt the day you were born.” J.Hooligan was turning 18. I thought it was important to know that.
Later, when I was telling Diamondqueen about this. J. overheard us and said, “I did listen to it again.” No reaction beyond that, but I hope he got the message.
Now I have trouble listening to “Dear Theodosia” because I think of that new baby eighteen years ago–the baby who just went off to college in Dayton. When I picture him, mostly it’s as a sunny-haired little boy with a love of trains and a surprisingly mature way of expressing himself. In truth, he’s a grown man, and that childhood is long behind him.
A couple of my friends have sons going off to college this year as well, plus I see so much on Facebook about kids making this transition into adulthood. I may not be a parent, but I can understand at least a little of what they’re all feeling: pride, disbelief at the quick passage of time, sincere hope for each kid’s happiness and success in his/her new life, but also a sadness and sense of loss that gets you around the throat and squeezes.
Last Friday I ducked briefly in at Diamondqueen’s to see J. and wish him well; he was moving into his dorm on Sunday and I didn’t think I’d have another opportunity. He accepted my farewell and good wishes with patience and subtle appreciation, but replied, “You know, it’s not like you’re never going to see me again.” Very true. I may not see him any less than when he was at home; I often went weeks, possibly even months without a glimpse of J.Hooligan unless he wandered into the kitchen while I was there to fix himself some bacon.
It’s more about the reality of him simply not being there at any time. I’m sure we’ll all adjust within a month or so, especially after he’s come back now and then. But I do hope his new dorm room becomes a special kind of home to him and college life an existence that’s uniquely his. When I told him I might drop him an e-mail now and then, he said, “Please don’t.” Whether he didn’t like the idea of the intrusion, didn’t like the distraction, it doesn’t matter. I’ll e-mail him if I damn well feel like it, not expecting a response. But it made me think, “Yeah, he’s probably going to be okay.”
Now if Diamondqueen can just hold it together. This is as big an adjustment for her as it is for J.Hooligan–our tall, broad-shouldered college man.