Saturday morning Tre packed up his car, gave hugs all around, and left for College 2.0.
That car there? He's been working ridiculous hours as a shift manager to earn enough to buy that car. When he brought it home, he was so proud that I started referring to it as my grandcar.
I know. Grandcar isn't a thing.
I keep thinking about the night we discussed him not returning to ASU. It wasn't what he wanted, and at one point he bellowed, with tears in his eyes, "But I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE!"
It didn't even hurt my feelings, at least not for myself, because it was just so true. He did not want to be here. My mom told me once that our children are born with their faces turned away from us. I don't think I ever understood that, until now.
I have to give him credit, though. For the last seven months, as he found his way through this time, he was kind and pleasant and helpful. Well, when we saw him. He really did work a lot. But when he was not at work or with his friends, he was so good. He did as much as he could of the driving to get his siblings where they needed to go. He helped out when asked. Only a few times, when I reflexively started to lecture him on something or other, did he look at me and say evenly, "Mom. I'm an adult."
Yes, sort of. Yes, mostly.
He decided not to return to ASU, which was such a relief to me. It never was the right fit. The university he picked after all is in New Mexico, and happens to be my alma mater. Wait, can I call it that when I left two semesters shy of a degree? Anyhow, this factored into his decision exactly not at all. He will be travelling in vastly different circles than I did, since I was in the College of Education and he will be in Engineering. We visited the campus in June, and although I saw my memories overlaid on so many views there, it was clearly his campus now.
I think he is ready now in a way he wasn't last year. There is the obvious maturing influence of having to make a course correction. There is the months of working as a shift manager. There's one more year slid past him. But there's one other thing too.
After a few months home, he asked to be tested for ADD. He'd been reading about it, and thought it would explain a lot. Genetically, it makes perfect sense. Both his brothers have ADD. But I didn't see it. Not Tre. Tre was the linear one. The one who had it all together. Compared to his brothers (not that I would EVER compare any of my kids - heh), Tre is a paragon of orderliness and scholastic achievement.
Except, as it turns out, he also has ADD.
I'm trying to forgive myself for being surprised by it three times now. It looks so different in each of them. Tre is mostly inattentive type, which is different from Raphael's hyperactive type, and different again from Max's combination type. The point, I assure myself, is that he now knows. He now has strategies. He has a path forward.
Last year, when we left him in his dorm room, it felt overwhelmingly sad. The end of his childhood. And yes, I was also excited for him, but that was tempered by a niggling anxiety for him that I couldn't quite identify.
What I discovered was that even though he came home at the end of that semester, it didn't undo the leaving. He lived here again, but he never did come back to his childhood. He was just marking time until he could start again.
On Saturday, he started again. I will simply miss him so much. I was so blindsided by the grief that I forgot to give him the gift Clay and I got him, a key chain that is a metal guitar pick stamped with the GPS coordinates of our home. Just so he doesn't forget.
But with a few days to clear my head, I find that I am mostly so very happy for him. There he goes. Isn't he just beautiful?