Chloe's friend has foiled my plot to be nowhere near any of them when they leave each other for college. We use Chloe's departure for Spain as a cold, hard touchstone: nothing will ever be as bad as that day. It's been almost two years and I still can't describe to anyone that morning on the ferry when Chloe's two best friends walked off the boat to go to school while Chloe stayed behind to go to the airport. Even that was almost more than I could write.
Chloe's friend leaves for Bennington on Wednesday and Chloe asked if we could take them to the airport. Of course we can. Oh, crap. That means I'll be there when she leaves her best friend that she's had an otherworldly connection with since the first time they saw each other when they were two years old. No, I won't. I'll be in the car. At the other end of the airport reading headlines from the newspaper stand. Wandering the parking garage looking at cars. Inspecting the garbage cans for freshly discarded, still-usable gels and liquids. I'll be there to pick up the pieces, but I will not be there to witness Chloe say goodbye to her best friend and to the life they've known and loved so far. Or to watch her friend's mother, a good friend of mine who is not at all looking forward to her daughter's departure, watch them leave each other. A while ago - we might have had a glass or six of wine - we were talking about this day and I mentioned that Chloe had spontaneously said, "I'm going to have such a great life! Aren't you excited for me?" and we both cried. I'm staying away so as to not contribute to that volatile combination. Sure, exciting things are on the horizon. But the horizon is out there somewhere and in the moment it doesn't mitigate the profound sadness of leaving each other while wondering if anything will ever be the same again.