Kirsten and I drove Nate into Cambridge this morning to begin his freshman year at MIT. The sun was bright. The air was light and fresh. Nate is so determined and forward looking that I didn’t know if he noticed his parents’ mixed emotions in the course of this dreaded drive.
With Nate there’s a soundtrack for every drive. He has thousands of songs on his Ipod and the range of his musical interests is very great. He gets pumped up with Hip Hop, and I’m sure he would have played some of that if he had let himself do it. But he looked at me and said, “Here you go, Dad.” It was Willie Nelson, On the Road Again, played to make me smile. Then, in honor of his brother Matt, he played Zach Brown and Alan Jackson, Don’t Be Falling in Love as She’s Walking Away. Finally, before he turned to the passionate beats of the urban music he likes, he said that he had one more for me. It was a song popular when I was his age. I remembered what a freeing experience college was. I recalled his brother Matt telling me how he felt free at each successive move, from elementary school to middle school to high school to college. The sounds of freedom, optimism and youthful energy drown out the sadness of time passing and of loved ones moving out and away.