Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Duke Drop-off

August 29th, 2017
Durham, North Carolina

I am crouched in the corner of my mother’s upstairs, unused, practically forgotten guest shower. Still as a statue. Kind of smug too. There is no way Freddie is going to find me.

Found you, says my grinning 8 year old nephew.

Guess I am a little rusty at hide n’ seek. I try to remember the last time I played a game- like a kid. I think it was when I was a kid.

How did I go from that elena to this one? Carefree to task-obsessed. I did just help my youngest child  move into college where getting things done was paramount.

Thank God for Target…

Phone, tick, bank account, tick, mini-fridge tick, kettle, tick, hangers, tick and a few days later…

it was time for a hurried hug, a too big smile, and a dash to the airport. I hate goodbyes.

How did Julia go from this?

to this?

In the blink of an eye. Her siblings too, but at least there was always a child at home to steady me.

I knew this day was coming. I’d had 18 years to prepare for it. During the last year I’d wake up Friday mornings already annoyed with Julia and the inevitable nocturnal plans. Every time she’d rock home at 3am on a Saturday night,  I would tell myself as I waited to hear the front door slam shut, just a few more months of this. Come September,  I’ll be free. I’ll be able to see Stretch more, travel more, not dread the weekends.  All good, and it is good. Everything has a time.

Still,  change is hard, even when it’s been anticipated and planned for. Emotions can’t be bossed around, ticked off a list. They have a way of creeping in, unannounced,  unwelcome. A   battered  physics book,  a box of peppermint tea, a front door key with a faded pink ribbon, little things  throw me.   It’s hard to look forward when the past is blocking the view.

But there are no other options. The time has come.

An empty nester friend told me it takes a few months to feel comfortable in this novel role. At first she was exhausted and slept a lot. And then after that mid-life hibernation she woke up and felt like a 23-year old again but without the angst. She was free to do what she really wanted to do and free to avoid the rest. She knew herself better, her likes, dislikes, and she is having a blast.

I’m looking forward to feeling that, saying hello to the next chapter. At the moment though I am still at the reflective stage, bidding adieu to what has been a wild, (not always, but mostly) glorious ride.

August, 2017