Dropping Them Off Takes Me Straight Back to College

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My boys are gone! Shipped off to Ithaca and University of Vermont, leaving me alone in my Brooklyn apartment on a late-August night, with my thoughts, a whisky and a plate of steak tartare.


I dropped Ben yesterday for his senior year – a fact that I am yet to fathom. He was a camp unit director this summer at his happy place for the past 10 years, which turned out to be a little less happy because he got his heart broken, as summer is wont to do. I still carry memories of Amy from Mt. Holyoke like it was yesterday. They say girls mature faster than boys. We catch up in a big sad way around college age. Then we spend the rest of our lives working through it.

Young Matthew’s summer passed so quickly it was as if it didn’t happen. I picked him up from the end of his freshman year in Burlington and off he went to Spain (courtesy of my many miles and a friend’s apartment in Madrid). When he returned he landed a job as a barista and fetcher of expensive pastries at a Brooklyn boulangerie, a block from his mom’s place. He had lots of morning shifts. I barely saw him.


With August waning, I took Matty and his best friend Anna up to the Cape with my family so we could sneak in a little quality time. It was just three days, but we crammed in an abbreviated summer’s worth of beach house fun. When I had to put him on the bus back to New York to pack and head back to school, the theme song from Sterile Cuckoo popped into my head. All of a sudden I was back at Middlebury College waiting for the bus down Route 7 – with stops in every town along the way to South Hadley.

“The Sterile Cuckoo” was shot on the campus of Hamilton College, a glorious pastoral tableau not unlike Ithaca, where I offloaded Ben. In my mind they are interchangeable and based on the idyllic, scenic drive, it could have been 1969, 1981, or 2019. It was bittersweet and oddly reassuring; everything has changed and nothing has.

The boys have been gone a week, but based on the silence in my apartment it’s as if summer never happened. The nights are cool already. My only company is the tapping of these keys. I can’t get the song “Come Saturday Morning” out of my head. They always leave. It is, so I am told, the way it is supposed to be.



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