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Growing Up

posted Tuesday August 18th, 2020






Facebook memories, you’re killing me.

I brace myself each morning, reminded of how it feels on the rare occasions I leave the house, driving past coffee shops, boutiques and other favorite spots that are currently things of the past. This week it’s all the back to school photos from previous years, my girls grinning with excitement, anxiety or a mix depending on the year — but always on their way out the door, something I no longer take for granted.

I’m okay if I don’t look back, but I’m also not comfortable looking forward, particularly this week.

This week, Annabelle will stuff her car with guitars, art supplies, a few duplicates from my spice rack and a set of gorgeous green and white Syracuse dishware from my overflowing, thrifted collection, and head northwest to Portland for her sophomore year of college. After a lot of hunting she and three friends found a rental house near campus, so the past weeks have been filled with talk of leases, security deposits and the best place to buy a mattress.

I knew it would happen eventually, of course, that Annabelle would live on her own, but I wasn’t expecting it so soon. Annabelle’s never been in a hurry to grow up. I found her sobbing in bed on the night before her tenth birthday.

“It’s all going by way too fast,” she said. I hugged her, thinking, “Just wait.”

Now circumstances none of us imagined have really sped things up, catapulting Annabelle from cushy dorm life to total independence.

It will definitely be a shock after six months of being home. And I really mean HOME. Annabelle came back to Phoenix in mid-March and our household has been in suspended animation even since, with the usual complement of sourdough attempts, family Scrabble games and walks around the neighborhood. I will be just fine if I never see or hear the phrase “silver lining” again for the rest of my days, but the truth is that it’s been wonderful to have her home, to introduce her to movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Valley Girl, let her choose the restaurant for our weekly take-out, watch her dance with her sister in the kitchen and eavesdrop (just a little) on hours-long Facetime calls with her new friends. She rented an upright bass this spring, and if you are going to listen to anyone practice scales, let it be Annabelle on the upright bass. She tends to leave a trail of dirty dishes and unfinished watercolors; I load the dishwasher at least once a day and scoop up her cast-off paintings, hiding them in a pile. Later, when she’s gone, I’ll stare at them.

Sophie and I won’t be along for the ride to Portland. Instead of a weeks-long family road trip up the coast, Annabelle and Ray will make the drive in three days. They’ll bring a cooler of food and camping equipment and pee by the side of the road, trying to avoid people.

I’m happy for Annabelle — as much as I’ve loved this extra time with her, it’s felt like keeping a bird in a cage. She’s got a pile of masks, gallons of hand sanitizer and a good head on her shoulders. I’m concerned, but not hysterical. More than anything, I’m melancholy at the thought that nothing will be easy for her, not like it was her freshman year when kids finished each other’s meals (quite literally — R.I.P. to the Scrounge Table, a Reed College tradition) and piled on top of one another in modern dance. This semester, Annabelle will study solo performance on Zoom, along with most (if not all) of her other classes.

Annabelle is growing up too fast, and at the same time, we’ve pumped the brakes for Sophie, a kid who is always asking what’s next. She can’t wait to be a grown up. Sophie won’t graduate from high school next spring, as originally planned. I’m gambling that the Class of 2022 will graduate in person (and do a lot of other things in person, as well) so we’re giving her an extra senior year. This year will be virtual. I was worried she’d be upset, but she embraced the idea.

As for me, I’m not sure if I want things to slow down or speed up. Fall is my favorite season, it means the Phoenix heat will end in a month or two, and that the holidays are coming. The anticipation is my favorite part, but this year I can’t think about fall. I’m dreading how much different things will be, the parties that won’t happen, the traditions we can’t continue. I know we’ll find new ways to celebrate each other, and that I’ll see reminders pop up next year on my Facebook memories, like the porch portrait our friend Rick D’Elia took this spring.

In a world where the only constant is uncertainty, Ray and I are lucky to have a plan for our daughters, if only for the near future. And yet — well, you know. You’re living through it, too.



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Tags: Filed under: Uncategorized by Amysilverman

5 Responses to “Growing Up”

  1. This a tough journey. I love how you and yours are navigating the unknown. Beautifully captured.
    All the best,

  2. I LOVE you. That is all.

  3. isn’t it amazing how we all have no real choice but to embrace all these rituals . .
    how wonderful that AB can travel with Ray . . that you can be there with Sophie and that you are all bound forever by this grand web of resilient threading called family . I cheer for you all . . and send HAPPY ADVENTURING to each . . as each embarks on these twisted and overlapping paths . . . here’s to no stumbles and grand vistas along the way .. May Annabelle paint the sunsets . . and Sophie keep us entertained . . .sending love

  4. You’ve lovingly described the place where I am as well with my own kids. The thing that no one tells you about giving kids roots and wings is that they are firmly anchored in your own heart and brain.

  5. I’ve been following you from afar since I had my own little with Down syndrome and just wanted you to know that we are just down the road from Reed if your daughter ever wants to connect with another Ds family.

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