The boys bang on my hotel room door.
And the moment I have been dreading has arrived.
I try to be matter of fact.
“I think it’s too late for breakfast, so we will have to get something to eat. There’s a Carl’s Jr. next door. Will that work?”
I don’t really need breakfast,” says Isaiah’s roommate. My son, who never eats breakfast (and yes, I do understand the benefits of breakfast) concurs.
“Ok, well then, let’s just get gas and we’ll look at the map and get you guys on the road.”
We stand in the hotel parking lot. I am trying to be strong, but my shaking voice and the tears welling up reveal my true feelings.
“Give me a hug,” says my never demonstrative son.
I wrap my arms around him, smell that man smell I have loved for the past ten years one last time. “I can do this, Miss Wilcox, I just need you to believe in me.”
I assure him that I do believe in him. Remind him one last time I love him. Tell him how much I have loved being his mom. Remind him to stay true to his dreams. And then let go.
We review the map. In a form characteristic of our life, we first review the map to Glendale. I circle points along the way, about every hundred miles for them to call me and check in. And then Roommate says, “is that the same as this map?” and produces the map my brother-in-law printed out. And of course the maps don’t match, because the boys are going to spend the weekend at his condo in Scottsdale, which evidently is on a slightly different road then Glendale. And we have to start all over. Isaiah is confused, but Roommate, who doesn’t have a driver’s license and will navigate, seems clear.
After transferring a few boxes of dishes and a blender from my car to theirs, we start our engines and fill the gas tanks. The no-breakfast boys load up on snacks at the gas station (every teenager eats Snickers bars for breakfast, right?), I buy some Advil to ease the headache that starts in the back of my neck and climbs over the top of my head to my forehead, and we pull out.
The plan is that the boys will follow me five miles down the road, I will get them onto the next highway, and then I will pull off at the first exit, and they will keep going.
The freeway is a typical urban freeway, with lanes that exit, and enter. Somehow, Isaiah is in the wrong lane, and has to make a quick dash in front of me to get onto Interstate 40 to Gallup.
And there he is, no longer following as, he has for the past five hundred miles, but instead, a couple of cars in front of me.
And I know he is ready to go. He doesn’t need me anymore.
I call to say one last goodbye.
We are in a major construction zone, traffic is heavy and Isaiah is driving
“You are on the right road now. You stay on this for 233 miles. You good to go?”
Roommate assures me that they are.
I remind him to tell Isaiah to call in a little while.
He says he will.
And then I pull off, turn around, and head for home.
And my baby leaves the nest and flies.