A year ago I wrote you a public letter containing all the things I could think of that an 18 year old man would need to know to get a good start in adult life. I thought of you then as a boy becoming a man. I imagined myself the wise elder, dispensing sage advice.
That makes me laugh now.
I don’t know when for sure that it happened, this shift in how I see you. Maybe it was in August when you visited and we were together for the first time in two years and you stood as a man among men and claimed your warrior self. But no, I think it was when we FaceTimed in October and I saw your apartment in France on my iPhone’s little screen.
Your first apartment. Your first time living alone.
In September you said you were heading to France for university. No, you said, you didn’t yet know where you were going to live. You planned to fly there and figure it out when you got there.
I remember those days! I had forgotten them amid decades of planning and houses and moving trucks and things going awry, and I still smarted from my last apartment hunt just a few months ago, but because of you I remember!
I remember the way it feels when every possibility stretches out before you, a personal red carpet to life.
I remember the way it feels when you need something, like an apartment to live in, and so you just go get one. Just like that.
I remember the way it feels when every experience is new, a first time.
I remember the way it feels when you haven’t yet learned to give up the first time things get hard.
I remember the way it feels when life is open and shining and filled with sound and color.
You made your first appearance nineteen years ago in a quiet, dimly-lit room. I remember it as a closet; the hospital was full that day. In any event it was a perfect space to begin a life of inquisitive adventure. I’ve been enchanted by you ever since, so much love for this bright magnificent being who strode in and claimed his place as a citizen of the world.
When I get quiet inside, I can sense your presence on that wide red carpet of life. Your future. The man you are now and the man you shall be. The ripples that emanate from you and the lives you will touch and inspire.
I feel blessed to be your mother, to have played a part in forging the man you have become.
I look forward to seeing the trail of light you leave in your wake as you navigate your spacious red carpet.
I see you wearing a cape of bravery, the kind one needs when striking out into the world to construct ever-larger circles of friends and colleagues. I see you going about your life there in France like it’s no big deal, everyone does it, so stop looking at you like it’s hard.
And it isn’t hard, not when you’re 19 and life stretches in front of you like a wonderful, colorful gift. Thank you for reminding me of that.
No advice this year. Just acknowledgement and accolades. You got this thing.
So much love,