We're on a road trip today-physically for us (I get to be the wheel man for Thelma and Louise) as we visit my middle sister and her husband, Kara and Russ, and their family as their oldest, RJ, prepares for a road trip of his own, so to speak, his imminent departure from his nest of family and friends as he heads off to college.
His cousin, our daughter, is on that journey already as Michelle is moments away from starting her senior year at Eastern Connecticut, but RJ is trekking South and far in pursuit of higher education. I realize his parents, brothers, and everyone else (of course) who knows and loves him are bursting with pride in anticipation of his adventure, which is one of the reasons for this way-cool blow-out party we're driving to, but I suspect there's a tinge of disquiet because Kara and Russ are at one of life's defining moments-when the first chick leaves the nest.
Because of the distance between Southeastern Connecticut and Central New Jersey, our visits over the years have been sporadic (that's a kind term), but Kara and Russ have obviously been in the 'honors program' at Parents' College. Today is a happy and noisy celebration of everything that has helped RJ become the best RJ he can be and his new classmates and professors at college will soon enough discover he is a rock-steady young person of principle who is a reflection of everything his parents have worked hard to help him become.
Because of the musical tastes of everyone currently or formerly named Kenny (okay NOT necessarily everyone), who will be in attendance I assume we'll listen to copious amounts of the Poet Laureate of Asbury Park, probably many of the exuberant, jubilation songs (I ain't here for business, I'm only here for fun) mindful the selections on the actual date of leave-taking could be slightly more somber.
Perhaps Kara and Russ will think about a more quiet verse from another time, "A friend of mine became a father last night. When we spoke, in his voice I could hear the light Of the skies and the rivers, the timberwolf in the pines. And that great jukebox out on Route 39." And they'll remember, too, The Long Goodbye always contains the promise of the ties that bind.