In less than two weeks Amy will be done with school. Along with the end of the school year, it also marks the end of a daily ritual.
For the past nine years, almost every weekday morning and afternoon, she and I have walked the few blocks to school-first to elementary school and then to middle school. When she was little, I walked with her out of necessity. As she grew older I walked and still walk with her because she likes my company, I like hers, and I get some exercise. Every trip back and forth has meant crossing Chestnut street-a road usually busy and hard to negotiate.
Next year Amy will start high school, and it’s in the opposite direction. Though this school is also only a few blocks away, you don’t have to cross Chestnut street to get there.
A lot of changes have happened in the last nine years, the most dramatic being that Amy has gone from a cute, toothless 5 year old to a beautiful young lady. In those 9 years we’ve also watched neighbors come and go, we ourselves have moved to a new house, we’ve made new friends along our routes. We’ve seen huge old trees get cut down and young ones planted, old wooden fences replaced with new vinyl fences that last forever, and sadly, one great old house burn down leaving behind a shell of its former self, and then an empty lot. We’ve found different ways to get to school-down different streets and alleys, but the one constant has been crossing Chestnut street.
Will I miss Chestnut street, and the difficulty it often presented when we tried to cross it? No, but I guess I’ll miss what Chestnut street represented—a divider between Amy as a child and still very much needing me, and Amy as the adult she is rapidly becoming-still needing me, but maybe not so much and in a different way.
Does this thought make me sad? Right now very much so. But I’m excited too. I’ve been to the new high school and I’ve seen what the kids have available to them, and I can remember myself how bright the future is when you have your whole life ahead of you.
Though I’m not ready to have Amy grown up and be gone from home, I am painfully aware that it’s inevitable. I don’t need to hold her hand any more. I don’t need to do a lot of things for her any more. But sometimes, the little girl is back-reaching for my hand, leaning her sweet head on my shoulder, and whispering “I love you.”
So long, Chestnut street.