We drove our little girl to the airport, watched her enter the terminal, and drove away.
Mind you: That “little girl” is a 20-year-old young woman, and we’ve been doing this now for a couple of years – since she started college 2500 miles away from home, in Chicago. This time, she is flying all the way to England for a two-week program at a university in Manchester. And in a few days, my husband and I will also be flying to the UK for a visit with his family, so we will all be together again in a very short time.
That doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.
Last night, during the news of the attempted military coup on Turkey – and following the awful tragedy of the attack on Bastille Day in Nice – my husband wondered if we should be worried about our daughter’s travels. I shook my head “no.”
But of course, I worry.
We’ve worried about terrorism while flying for most of her young life. I also worry about random shootings at school, in movie theaters, and shopping centers here in the United States. If anything, I worry about her more now because she’s almost entirely autonomous. I have no control. And the truth is, I never really did – it just felt that way. If I’ve learned anything from the waves and waves of surprising violence in this country and around the world, it’s that none of us can ever be 100% certain we’ll be safe. All we can do is play the odds, and fortunately, the odds are still very much in our favor.
But that realization is pretty cold comfort. I am 60 years old and I still call my dad every time I travel to let him know I’ve landed safely – and he says he appreciates it.
We dropped her off at LAX around lunchtime and decided to grab a bite somewhere in town.
“Where would you like to go?” my husband asked.
I wasn’t sure. “Some place very L.A.,” I told him. After all, in a few days we’ll be far away from palm trees and hazy sunshine and the Pacific Ocean. We toyed with the idea of going to the beach, or downtown Los Angeles – and settled with one of my very favorite spots in all of Los Angeles: Monsieur Marcel at the Farmer’s Market.
I had my usual Salad Nicoise and ordered a glass of French Sauvignon Blanc. I don’t usually drink at lunch time, but there had been so much traffic that it was nearly 3:00 PM and besides, my baby was getting on a plane and flying 6,000 miles away WITHOUT US. And I remembered, years ago, when my oldest niece left Los Angeles for a summer college term in Europe, we took my sister out for some wine at the very same place, and it suddenly felt very right.
YOU ON THE PLANE YET? I texted my daughter.
WAITING FOR MY ROW TO BOARD, she answered.
I ordered a second glass of wine. That felt right, too.
ALRIGHT TAKING OFF NOW! SEE YOU IN 2 WEEKS, my daughter texted.
As I left the Farmer’s Market, I was downright relaxed. And I will try to remain that way – at least until I get that text from her to tell me she’s landed.