10. In Limbo Now

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SchoolLess is home! His intense and transcendent sojourn to the Mountain School has ended, much to his dismay. It’s been a tough transition week, not only because he was clearly not ready to leave but, also, because he clearly is ready, and now, to move on to the next stage in his life. He has returned to us not exactly as the boy he used to be, this intentional, expected, and by design, but not quite as the man he wants to be either, this unsurprising, unavoidable, and, I hope and suspect, interim. I can sense the man emerging from the boy, the limbo both excruciating and exhilarating to observe. His negativity, his anger at the misbehaviors and misunderstandings of others, persists, despite an increasing awareness that such judging of others is—well, let’s be realistic, can be—akin to judging of self. (Been there, done that, but not, give me credit, in the last hour.) His judgments are not wrong, I have to say (father of the son that I am), but that’s not the same thing as necessary or useful. This way of being, long habituated, is unproductive and disruptive (in the old-time pejorative sense of the word) to his well-being, perhaps the greatest challenge he faces as he continues, in the vernacular of the place he has loved and left, to make himself.

On a more effervescent note, I love having him home, family intact again, and it’s been a pleasure—maybe relief is the better word—to observe the social connections he has made to people he enjoys, respects, and feels connected to. He has, perhaps for the first time, found a social niche to his liking, while at the same time done a pretty good job (long haul, I know) of not getting pulled into a variety of roles and relationships from before that he prefers to avoid. Without sharing particulars, let me also say that I am reminded of the lovely letter I received years ago from an old (he was in 70s at the time, no longer with us now) family friend upon my departure for college: “Make many friends, and not just boys, girls too.” In other related news, last night SchoolLess baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch and cleaned up the kitchen without being asked, has taken up knitting (not sure that will last but it’s sweet while it does), and is excited (no typical teen he) to tackle, by assent, if not quite choice, Dante’s Divine Comedy, an undertaking quite befitting my son with the serious soul.

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