Go West, Young Man!

Today Jim and I did something I really couldn’t have imagined doing even a couple of years ago: we put D on a train that would take him away from us for the entire summer.

He was hired to be a backwoods ranger at a Boy Scout High Adventure ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, something he’s wanted to do since he visited that same ranch for the first time a few years ago. After applying but not getting an offer last year, he was over the moon when he got the great news this year. When he called to tell me, I could hear the unadulterated joy in his voice, and I was so happy for him.

The position for which he was hired includes spending two days hiking up into the mountains from base camp with a visiting troop, teaching them what they need to know for survival on the rest of their 7-10 day trek before leaving them early on the third morning to hike back to base camp, alone, to meet the next troop. (“Yikes, ALONE??” says his mother.) He was truly cut out to do this job. He is great with younger kids, and is a pro in camping situations. He amazes me with what he can do. He also knows what to do in case a bear approaches, which is good.

He will be living in a semi-permanent tent for two (with a tent-mate) at base camp and in his own one-man tent out in the backwoods, meaning he will not know the comfort of an actual mattress (and indoor plumbing) for TWO AND A HALF MONTHS. To me, this sounds like hell because my idea of roughing it is a cheap hotel with no cable TV, but to him, it’s pure heaven. (He obviously gets his love for the outdoors from his father, who is totally green with envy that he couldn’t go along.)

D will turn 20 in a couple of weeks, among his new friends and across the country from his family. It will be the first time we won’t be together for his birthday, and as much of a bummer that is, it’s really part of the circle of life and I’m buoyed by my excitement for the fantastic adventure he’ll create for himself this summer. I know this will be a life-changing experience for him, as were each of his two ten-day trips there as a Scout.

Still, taking him to the train station was a little bittersweet.

He was a little nervous, but more excited than anything.

He rearranged his backpack a bunch of times before he left. It holds, on the inside or outside, all of the stuff he needs for the entire summer. I told him he looked like one of those one-man bands with the huge bass drum and the cymbals.

We kept the mood light as we said goodbye. It was so weird, watching him walk away!

And then, he was gone.

I miss him already.

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