Portland, Oregon Airport Sheraton
Young man by himself
Sitting in the hot tub, lost in thought
I join him to sit neck-deep
in the warm bubbles
Ask him where he’s from
“Vancouver–20 minutes away.
I ship out tomorrow to South Dakota.”
I am taken aback
This baby-faced boy is off to the army.
Tells me it’s been his dream for 10 years.
But he looks sad as he says this,
says the hardest thing about all of it
was saying goodbye to his parents tonight
His eyes well up
And mine start to
Thinking of all the 18-year-old goodbyes
First Ellen, then David, and me next. Debby left after me.
A generation later–Ian, Sarah, Lucas..
Each departing the family cocoon
in his or her way–a job, a bus, college, the army…
A new beginning
A monumental ending
That moment of leaping into adulthood.