Thursday, April 3, 2014

Letting Go...Again (or There Will Be Mac and Cheese)

Dear Readers: I'm sharing an old post from my first blog, JEMS, with you today. Tonight, I'm flying to California to see Cali Girl number two play her senior lacrosse game. The post below is written about her older sister's departure  for college over six years ago. Time flies. Yeah.

I have no recipes for you today. I'm cobbled together by Tylenol Cold and zinc tablets, hoping the flight personnel won't take one look at my red eyes and put me in quarantine. My husband just asked me if I wanted to ice my eyes. Sigh.

In Cali, the moms are taking over our daughters' kitchen on Saturday night, and one of my contributions will be macaroni and cheese. You may have heard of it. I'm pretty famous for my mac and cheese. When I get back, I promise I'll share the recipe, and some Cali stories, with you.

For now, I'm leaving another little bit of Jill for you on the page.

                                                  Letting Go

I am perched on a black faux leather stool in the middle of Sephora, feeling rather conspicuous as a flawlessly sponged and lined face asks me questions.

"Where is your daughter going to school?" she asks as she brushes on a thick layer of Dior foundation. I have asked for something to help my old skin look younger. "Yes, want something to make you look dewey," she says.

Dewey would be miraculous at 52, but I would settle for something that would masque the tiredness in my face. "She's going to California," I tell her. "To the University of California at Davis."

"To California, California?" she asks as the brush stabs foundation into the side of my nose.

I have answered this question hundreds of times since last fall when my daughter signed the NCAA Division 1 intent papers. "Yes, near Sacramento."

"Ohhhhh, that's so far," she coos. I hope the foundation is doing its job.

"Yes, it is far," I answer robotically, as I've answered nearly everyone who has heard she is going to UC Davis.

I look up at my daughter, wandering fresh-faced through the aisles of liners, bronzers, and concealers. She carries a round mesh basket, into which she drops various colored pencils, tubes, and boxes. We have been shopping for weeks, buying room decor, clothes, school supplies, books.

Winding her way back to me, she glances with a bit of alarm at my face, which has now been brushed with powder, blush, and a mash of bronze beads.

"What do you think?"

"I like the way you usually do your makeup, Mom," she says, "but this looks nice."

In the mirror I see that the dewey look involves emphasizing the fine lines around my lips and nose. My personal makeup stylist tells me, "We can change anything you don't like."

If only that were so. I buy the expensive foundation and concealer, putting back the dry powders that gathered in the creases of my face.

We purchase my daughter's pencils, tubes, and boxes, and we will add them to the ever-growing pile on the floor of her room, a pile that is a hedge against the day I fly home from California. She is collecting all she might need in any scenario, wrapping these new things around her as an insulation from the certain loneliness she will feel when she wakes to find herself only one instead of being one of six. In the packing, can I slip some of who we are together between the layers of sleep shorts and bathing suits? Can I leave something there for her to find, to hold onto until she gets her California legs, until the new becomes more real than the old?

I catch our reflection in Sephora's window as we leave, shoulder to shoulder, close enough to distance the coming separation. Even in the blurry mirror image, the Dior foundation lays heavily on my skin.