I’m guessing we’ve covered about 9,000 miles since we left Marblehead August 3. Really. I’m not exaggerating. In fact, it’s more than 10,000 miles if you throw in the early July journey Will and I made to get Guster to his new home.
Pause. I swear I did not plan this… the song, “10,000 Miles” just came on the iPad, which was playing music on shuffle. Such a sad song– can’t bear to listen to it just now.
Back to the story. First stopover after leaving Glendale Rd for the last time was in Archbold. It always feels restful to me to be in my parents’ house– probably because I revert to my 14-yr-old self and eat everything in their kitchen while assuming no responsibilities around the house. Not quite true this time, though, because I was desperately packing and repacking, sorting documents I hadn’t had time to sort before we left, and shrinking all of our squishable worldly belongings in those vacuum-pack bags so we could fit Clay and his luggage in the car for the rest of the trip. He stayed in MHD to work a few more days and deal with the final stage of moving, then flew to Ohio to join us for the rest of the journey. Anyway, we had a wonderful time with family in Ohio– particularly with Heidi/Kevin and their boys, Jack and Matt, at the house for a few days. Loved seeing much of my extended family, too, at a pool party which was memorably interrupted by tornado warning sirens! (At least, it was memorable for the Hesketts, who are not so accustomed to tornado sirens as many of my cousins and their familes are).
In fact, on the next leg of our journey, we stopped in tornado-devastated Joplin, MO for the night– and drove through a terrifying storm just outside there. I’ve never felt the car rock so much in wind, and I’m thankful Clay was behind the wheel in the absolute blind driving that left many cars in the ditch. But we emerged, and after a second full day of driving, arrived finally in Santa Fe to a beautiful rental home with amazing views across the valley. Bliss.
Imagine our surprise when the property manager called the next morning to let us know there might be a couple of showings while we were there. As in– “the house is on the market; did we neglect to mention that?”– showings. “Oh, and would 1:00 this afternoon be convenient?” After dealing with that in our own house for the last four months, we could not believe we were tidying and straightening for a showing on our vacation! Clay called the manager after the second showing in two days and “arranged” for them to leave us in peace the rest of the time. It ended up being a really wonderful week in the midst of our chaotic month. We hiked, mountain biked, visited old favorite places, ate enough New Mexican cuisine to choke a donkey, saw friends, and drank margaritas and a couple bottles of fine wine we’d still held on to from our time in France. I admit, it would have been a happier time for me if I hadn’t been miserably unable to ignore the fact that we would be leaving Will in Boulder in a very short time. I dreaded it with every molecule of my being.
But nonetheless, the time came. He went off on the orientation camping trip he’d signed up for, hiking and rafting and camping somewhere up around Vail. We stayed at Paula’s house in Colorado Springs (thanks, Po and Pam!), continuing to repack and prepare, taking care of business, and, in my case, visiting an old friend from Hillsdale College. Denise is a Lt Col in the Air Force now, and she just returned from a tour in the Middle East to a teaching post at the Air Force Academy, which is just across the highway from Paula’s house. It was an amazing honor to go visit her there. Not only has she achieved so much (I loved watching people salute her), but she also remains a caring, humble, awesome person. After we met, things were so crazy I didn’t take time to send a note or properly express to her how much it meant to me to reconnect with her. That’s on my expansive list of notes to write…
Clay and I then went up to Boulder for two days of orientation “with” Will– though he was fully committed to student orientation activities that sent him a different direction from us. All I’ll say is that it was a difficult time for me– like kindergarten send-off, but about five orders of magnitude more. On the bright side, campus is beautiful, and we got a ton of useful information. Given how far away we are, I’m really glad we got to spend a couple days there getting a feel for what Will’s world is going to be like– campus, his room, his roommate. I think it was nice that the littles got to see his room on the day we dropped him off for his trip. And Rusty and Lyn were in Denver and they came up for breakfast with Will on the day we started orientation. So there were lots of comings and goings.
We finally did say goodbye at a big family lunch with most of the extended family– I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Chloe had been in Vermont at running camp and staying with friends (the Watkins, the O’Callaghans, and the Johnstons–who gave her a lovely send-off!) during our Santa Fe trip, and Will was already on his camping trip by the time Chloe flew into Denver. So this was the first they’d seen each other since the beginning of August– not to mention the first (and last) time our whole family had been/will be together in quite a while. But Will seemed really happy and well. I think he has found a good place for himself.
We spent another day in Denver, with Todd’s family at their vacation house (thank you, Todd and Theresa!), and we saw Kelli, Doug, Po and Pam a bit more, then Todd drove us to the airport and we headed back to Boston. Clay had stayed at the airport Marriott on his way out of town before our OH/NM/CO trip, checking our big piece of luggage there and reserving our room for the family’s overnight stay on the way to the UK. He said the desk employee he spoke with had given him an upgraded room since they had no more adjoining doubles available. What we didn’t know is that we would spend our last night in Boston in a large suite overlooking the city and the airport! That guy will never know how much his help was appreciated by this exhausted, emotionally spent Mama (though I’m sure Clay did find an appropriate way to express appreciation…). Chloe had one last visit from a friend, who came by the hotel to say goodbye, and the next morning we flew out right over Marblehead. (Yes. I cried AGAIN!)
I’ll write plenty in the days to come about settling in to life in London (no trace of the riots by the time we got here). But there is one more note of interest to mention about the Journey part of it all. When we landed at Heathrow and Clay turned on his cell phone, we learned that Will was at the hospital getting x-rays and cleaned up from a mountain biking accident. He “supermanned” over the handlebars on some kind of jump and the word was that he may have broken his shoulder. Not a good landing for him in Boulder, and not a good landing for us in the UK. I’ll never forget that extreme initiation into parenting a kid 4636 miles away (and I know the mileage because there was a distance signpost to London in downtown Boulder– I just didn’t have the heart to take a picture, but now I wish I had!). Luckily, it turned out to be a broken collarbone, which is painful enough and comes with quite a set of activity restrictions, but is way better than a broken shoulder. He also came out of the bike accident with a pretty good collection of road rash trophies– leg, shoulder, back, etc. BUT, he is in one piece, and we’ve all weathered our first long-distance crisis.
A friend of ours likes to say, “the journey is the reward.” I’ve always liked the saying. And there were some great moments in this journey– especially seeing family and friends along the way. But I hope all the loved ones we saw will understand when I say that I certainly hope there’s more reward still in store for this bittersweet journey that was our summer. It is indeed a new season now.
Love to all of you.