The weeks continue to count down to our trip north to Portland, where we'll drop our daughter off at Reed College.
Jenny and Vienna are pulling together paperwork and checking off boxes of to-do lists, preparing for this big move. And all of us are finding opportunities to spend plenty of time together as a family -- seeing movies, taking trips, and catching up on conversations, along the while recognizing the quickening momentum of time advancing us along its course.
These days, I find myself looking back on special times with my daughter, understanding at last what Jenny has long known: This transition will be tough for all of us. Until now I've generally concentrated on the excitement I have for the possibilities opening up for Vienna. The fact that I'll miss her, that in some ways I miss her already, has been more difficult to discern. But it's true, all the same.
So I remember good times. Obviously I begin with our 2006 roadtrip, when Vienna and I spent fourteen days of a three-week journey traveling by ourselves before catching up with Jenny in New York. During those first legs of the trip, Vienna and I shared inside jokes and developed our own routines, all while winding our ways through big cities and small towns from California through Canada to Maine and all over the eastern seaboard.
I also remember smaller things too, like our occasional lunches together, just the two of us, talking about college and her professional plans, even occasionally chatting about more important things in Vienna's life. It's difficult to imagine that those moments will be harder to come by as she embarks on her own adventures.
Perhaps my fondest memory of Vienna comes from the first moment when I recognized just how special she is. We were living in Ohio, she might have been five or six at the time, and it was Halloween. In Athens, they only allowed trick-or-treating during the late afternoon, and only for a strict limit of one hour. Jenny and I were taking Vienna up and down the streets when we spotted an arbor filled with tiny hanging jack-o-lanterns. Vienna exclaimed, "It's a Trick-or-Tree!"
I was delighted and amazed. This little twinkle of a kid had managed to crack a really clever joke, one suggesting a subtlety with language that I'd never before seen in her. Surely, I over-dramatize. But Vienna's joke fed me with optimism that she had the potential to do something really cool with her life. And now, a breeze of time later, she's headed for college.
With our preparations for Reed coming to culmination, I can only imagine what lies in store for this amazing young woman.