"This has been the summer of my dreams," I say to my daughter.
"That's pathetic," Ally replies.
Maybe. But it's true. In the three months Ally's been home between graduating from college and moving to Spain, we've been each other's best companion. Long walks, lattes, massages, cooking side by side, a mani-pedi to mark the dwindling days of flip-flops and our time together. We've even managed some good talks until I mess up by asking, "What if you fall in love and decide to stay in Spain forever?"
I dreamed of such a summer four years earlier, before Ally left for college. But back then my dream was her nightmare. So she stayed out late with friends, sleeping in till the coast was clear from my offers of ensnaring lattes.
Four years away have allowed Ally to come back not only with a college degree, but with an independent identity that makes our bond less threatening. Free lattes? Bring them on!
Our first separation was a dress rehearsal. This time's for real. Ally's going off to adulthood, not college.
The day of departure arrives. We sit awhile in the terminal, steeling ourselves for goodbye. I repeat something I heard on the radio, about imagining someone you sorely miss in the next room. "I'm going to think of you in the next room," I say as we hug. To distract ourselves, we search out one last latte. It helps wash away the lump in my throat.
I watch as Ally goes through security. It's hard to see through the plate glass that separates us. Between the throng of travelers and the reflections of people waving goodbye, I soon lose track of her. Suddenly I feel the same panic that overwhelmed me when Ally was three, and we lost her in a museum. As my husband and I frantically searched the nearby exhibits, I glanced from the balcony into the lobby. There was Ally, calmly talking to a guard, unaware that she was lost.
She'll be fine now, too.
I hope I can say the same for myself.
With a Perspective, I'm Lorrie Goldin.
Lorrie Goldin is a psychotherapist practicing in Berkeley and San Rafael.