I have been incredibly stressed out about money. Paralyzingly so. Because we are in a long-standing dispute with Bank of America, we have a shit credit rating right now. We were declined for Jess' student loan for Pitt, and we leave here on Saturday. Doug reached out to his parents and his dad is co-signing on her first year's worth of loans. We're hoping life will be better, and that she can establish herself as an independent student, and obtain her own loans without our history tarnishing her. I am unable to fall asleep at night just thinking about this.
My advice to you if you have small people is no matter how hard it is to put money aside, earmark 100 bucks a month to your 529 plan, now. We didn't start until last year. We only raised 7000 dollars. So if you have wee ones, start early, and be serious about it. You won't regret it.
Last night we hosted a little bonfire for Jess in honor of her leaving for college rather soon. I didn't want it to be a party party with tons of food -- but I ended up bbq'ing burgers for about 20 hungry kids (and my husband and son too), and in between silly stories and a round of "Apples to Apples Junior" we did a little "separation ritual" for Jess. My friend Agnes had sent me an article about having time set aside for family to talk to the "leaver" about how their departure will change your life.
Because I know that her friends love her so, and most of them are not going away away (Courtney is going to southern Maine, Marissa is going to Worcester, and tons of her friends are underclassmen) I figured it would be an interesting exercise.
We built a fire in the fire pit, and I got Jessica's "Pimp Hat" and her purple and white feather boa. She got placed in a chair, with pimp hat perched, and her friends circled round. I had them wear the feather boa and share two things: their favorite memory of her, and then what they will miss most about her. I told all of them to turn off their phones. No texting, no web browsing, nothing. Be in the moment -- don't get distracted, and really spend time listening to each other and sharing with Jess.
It got really silly, and a couple people got slightly teary. A lot of it centered around her strength of will. Nick said that the one thing he will always remember is that even when she was most pissed off about things and situations, she would bitch with humor.
That's mah girl. yo.
She would always throw her hands up in the air and flail them around while strongly voicing her displeasure, and make it funny. People who had gone away with her on trips (the German trip and the NYC trip with the Germans) all had funny memories, like Lee recalling a creeper who jumped out of an alley in Manhattan and said some wacky things to them, scaring the piss out of them.
Nick's parents were present for the "ritual," and participated and I think they were feeling it strongly because of what is happening on their homefront... Nick is going away for a semester in Ireland right off the bat (he'll be going to Plymouth NH for school but for the first semester he'll be overseas) so Mrs. Nick's Mom was a little emotional as she remembered all the fun things that she was able to witness through the years that Nick and Jess have been friends.
Nick's younger brother was there. He's a year older than Jess and I was incredibly moved by what he had to say. He loves Jessica -- and it is obvious. He made her chocolate covered strawberries for her party, and he had a lot of memories to share about her being at their house while Nick and Jess and others were working on projects for school.
Doug and I both participated -- I said there are too many good memories that I have of her. I thought that I might cry but I didn't. I said that I was going to miss nothing, which made everyone laugh, but the truth is that this is the right time and exactly what is supposed to happen and I am 100% convinced that her launch will be successful. And thanks to technology and facebook and what have you, she wouldn't be lost to me. I am going to miss her asking me every day, even if she's been with me all day, "How was your day, lady?" but now she can do it on skype or facebook or whatever. And our lives will be normal and wonderful, just the way they are supposed to be.
Doug got a lot of laughs because I put the feather boa on him and he made a face that made Jessica say "you think this is soooooooo stupid! that's what your face says!" But he said that he is proud of her and that he is happy she has such great friends who have been supportive to her for years. Doug normally retreats when we have these Jess friend gatherings, so it was fun to watch him listen to what her friends had to say about her.
I was pleasantly surprised by Geoff. He was given the option to be skipped over, or say only appropriate things. He said that the thing he'll remember most about her was her role in "Bye Bye Birdie" when she played Mae Petersen, and how incredibly funny she was and she literally stole the show. Fully expected, he ended with "And I will miss nothing about you."
He's ready for her to leave. He's ready to have a life to himself. And I am okay with that. I do feel relief that there is SOMEthing that he remembers fondly of her.
And I hear her when she talks to her friends. She relates stories about things he has done and said that are awesome and funny. To his face I'm sure she wold never tell him that she thinks they are awesome and funny. But last night I heard her relate at least two stories about him that were great stories (the "I can't wait until I grow up" and "I hurt my foot on the same nail!" stories). Her friends were in stitches, and I know that she maybe knows he isn't the complete little shit that he seems to be most of the time.
At the end, Eric broke my heart because I know he is going to miss her so much. There is no doubt that I love this kid and how much a part of her life he's been for the last 5 years or so... he's so wonderful. He is like a son to me... a great role model for Geoff, and a like-soul to Jess.
It was a very good time, and a great party. Normally I would have opened the house to pantloads of kids to crash out and sleep here in the livingroom, like during graduation weekend. But I made it clear (to Eric's disappointment as well as others) that I was probably not in the best frame of mind to have piles of puppies sleeping in the livingroom when I needed to get things done in the morning.
I am going to miss that...
And I predict a giant sleep over during Christmas.