Michelle Martin

Taking flight

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I spent last weekend on a whirlwind trip to Boston, helping Caroline move into a room she’s subleasing in a student apartment to take on a summer internship.

It wasn’t a long trip — fewer than 72 hours all told, flight delays on the return included. It was a journey nonetheless, a trek that involved planes, trains and automobiles, and, at the end, even a bus. That doesn’t even count the miles we walked exploring her new neighborhood, finding the supermarket and pizza place and Dunkin’ Donuts and all the other necessities of life.

Strictly speaking, I think the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee was more a necessity for me than for her. But at least she knows where it is now. It’s right next to the local Catholic church.

We met some of her summer roommates — the one she knows was out of town in this flux period between school ending for the year and summer jobs starting, but the rest are all at least friends-of-friends. Their apartment is one of three in a building that seems to be chock full of students at some of the more than 50 colleges and universities in the Boston metropolitan area.

It has the strange combination of dilapidation and be-nice-to-your-roommates cleanliness that I recall from my college off-campus housing: peeling paint on the porch, but take your shoes off before entering the apartment itself; posted rules for washing cookware and dishes, but a freezer that looks like no one ever heard of defrosting it.

The halcyon days of May seem a strange time for reminiscing. It seems like the time for Caroline and her peers to be taking off, moving into the wider world, moving away from us for the first time that’s not for school, not taking up residence in a dorm managed by an institution of higher learning.

She’ll be fine. So will we, even if it seems like it was yesterday that the four of us — this was years before Teresa arrived — boarded an Amtrak to go on spring break in Texas, our first long-distance train trip. Now Caroline is a veteran of the Chicago-to-Boston route, both because she doesn’t like to fly and because Amtrak has far more generous baggage allowances than any airline.

When we went to look for a few last things for her apartment and for work, she was the one who knew the layout of the local Target, and how to get there on the T. We walked to the supermarket and saw a lovely, full-length rainbow on the way, a good omen if there ever was one, the sign of God’s covenant with his people.

She took the time to pull her first-day-of-work outfit from the closet and hang it ready on the dresser, and she relaxed the night before work started by watching episodes of “The Office” on her laptop.

The morning she was due to go to work, I had to leave early for the airport. I woke her before I left to say goodbye and remind her to lock the door behind me. She reminded me to check the license plate and name of my Uber driver before I got in the car.

Yes, she will be fine. Really.


  • family life