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Every once in a while, I'll climb into my minivan in order to head off to work or run errands, and find myself listening to a CD one of my kids had left in when they had borrowed the van the night before. These "driving tunes" (that's what they tend to be labelled) are made expressly for rides in my ancient van - no place to hook up the iphone or ipod or ianything. These CDs tell me a lot about the mood of the kid the night before: angry rap, soothing jazz, mellow a capella; I listen and I know who was feeling what. Most often, I pop the CD out right away and return to NPR, but these days I find myself searching for one CD in particular, one song in particular, and listening to it over and over again as I drive the same route over and over again: home to elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to the main Ridgewood Maroons soccer field, to "the view" at the highest point in our town, and then back home to start all over again.
Our youngest leaves for college on Friday, and there is a kind of bittersweet excitement in the air. School friends are running in and out saying their goodbyes, there are boxes and piles of stuff in various stages of being packed, and our conversations tend to be about "do you have...," "did you remember...," and "don't forget the...". This is a big step for all of us, a real sense of moving into a new phase of our lives. In the midst of all this activity, I find myself driving around the same route and listening to the same song.
The route encompasses all the places we've driven to and spent the most time with Olivia in her growing up years. The song is her favorite, her "theme song." It's the one she's sung the most, listened to the most, even painted snippets of on her bedroom walls. I can be in a grocery store and in a terrible mood after a long day at work, but when I hear "Moon River" playing over the speakers, Livy's face comes to mind right away - sparkling eyes, cheeky smile, usually on the verge of sharing some zany zinger. I feel my mood lighten right away.
I will really miss Olivia. Knowing this, I am doing what I can do to prepare myself . So, I help her pack and get ready for this exciting time in her life, and I drive around town listening to "Moon River" - tracing her foot prints across town...across my heart.