Wednesday, September 23, 2015

She's Losing Her Baby

Bowtie, mismatched shoes, negligee &
drinking straw glasses.
I'm about to lose the best roommate I ever had.

All of her important belongings are packed and waiting by the front door, ready to be moved out of the house and into the dorms at Southern Oregon University, and by the time you lay your eyes upon this, she'll be unpacking five green & blue plastic totes full of clothing and school supplies. It occurs to me that this will be the first time in her life that she's making all the decisions about where her stuff should go, because the last time we moved into a new house with a new room and new places to put things, she was 4.

My daughter is going off to college this weekend.

Our relationship has been a simpatico one, almost without fail, since she was kicking around in my belly 18 years ago. There were a few colicky moments back in 1997, but other than that, we've been best buddies. She was my maid of honor. The person I get to schlep my laundry up from the basement. The person I've been watching The Voice with for years. The gal I just taught how to drive. My only baby, who's become an adult.

I'm gonna miss that girl.

For weeks we've been slowly going through her bedroom, organizing everything she owns into a few distinct categories: Stuff to take, stuff to keep here, stuff to give to her 8 year old cousin, stuff to give away to charity, and stuff to throw away. We've thrown away a lot of stuff. Apparently I raised a hoarder. We've got 2 car loads to take to Goodwill, two giant bins of toys and clothes for cousin Lena, the bookshelves in her room are organized with all the clothing, books and knick knacks she wants to keep at home, and my final thought leaving her room last night was that her bedroom is finally looking like a bedroom should look instead of like a tornado just hit. And everything she's taking is waiting by the front door.

All her stuff, and two sad dogs who know sumthin's up.
Last night we finally made it to the closet, where there lives a huge trunk full of dress up clothes. She's had it since she could walk. We brought it from Alaska when we moved to California.  We spent most of the evening going through it, deciding what was too gross to keep, and what needed to be kept for future costume parties, future potential children, and future Halloween escapades (she is going to Ashland, after all, home of the craziest city wide Halloween party in the mythical state of Jefferson).

Size 9 feet stuffed into size 5 shoes, and
one sad little puppy.
Trying on pretty much everything in the bin before making a decision on whether to keep or toss it, Sophia threw away the disgusting Dollar Tree wigs, but kept the purple fishnet stockings. Kept the bow tie, threw away the one black heel and the one gold heel. Threw away the pink pajama top with the puppies on the front, size 4-T ("Look Mom, I'm a hooker. Or Katy Perry."), kept all the rubber masks and the teeny little Uncle Sam hat on a headband. She kept the "Super Sophia" cape with a giant green S on the back I made from a pair of my purple satin pajamas when she was 3, and the pair of giant sunglasses, but tossed the pair of size 5 periwinkle heels from 1978 that my sister gave to Sophia along with a prom dress with a broken zipper, a stained negligee that finally fits her and doesn't look half bad  except for the stains, and a wedding dress that's too big even for me. Every one of these items was paraded out through the living room for me and the dogs in the most hilariously grotesque fashion show to ever hit the runway of our living room (and believe me, we've had plenty). She tried on my valkyrie costume (KEEP), her mad scientist smock (TOSS), a pair of tan 70's bell bottoms (KEEP) and at one point she walked through the house wearing leopard spotted shoes. Mismatched leopard spotted shoes: one was a platform heel and one was a furry slipper (TOSS).

Giant sunglasses
Last night I laughed so hard that I cried, but there are more tears - real tears - waiting in line for this weekend when this amazing soul, this joyful, thoughtful daughter and friend, moves out of the house, probably forever. Some of those tears are sneaking out now, but I know there's more to come. Lots more.

As I was going through a drawer with puzzles missing half the pieces, compact discs and random hair ties, I came across a cassette tape with a recording of a radio show I did back when I was 8 months pregnant with my little fashion model, the day before I left Alaska on the trip to Oregon to give birth. It was called "She's Having A Baby."

My friend Suzanne had told me that while I was pregnant, I should try to love myself a little extra, and take some time to do the things that really make me happy, because after the baby arrived, I wasn't going to have much time to myself for a long, long time. She was talking about reading books and getting massages, and I did those things. I also started a major genealogy research project, and started working on a new radio program idea I'd been thinking about, which was, for lack of a better description, an audio tapestry. I came up with a topic, and then went out on the streets with a tape recorder, and interviewed people about the subject, and then scoured the radio station's music library for   related music, and then I wove it all together. "She's Having A Baby" was the first one.

When it aired, 18 years ago this week, it was one of my proudest and most meaningful moments as a broadcaster. I was taking stories and music and bringing it all together in a way that was more fulfilling than just about any other thing I'd ever done on the radio. And it was dedicated to my (not yet born) little pumpkin.

A sidenote: Four and a half years ago, when Adam Mankowski walked into my office and suggested I write a column for A News Cafe, my first response wasn't what he expected. 
 "What in the world would I write about?""How about music," he said."Ohh, that would be sooooo boring," I replied.
And then I started thinking about that radio program.  And I told Adam how amazing it felt to weave stories and experiences with a playlist of music that went together perfectly. If I only there was a way I could do something like that for the internet. He said, "I think that's a great idea for a column. That's what you should do. Now how do we make that work?" And that's how the Mistress of the Mix was born. (Adam, you have my eternal, heartfelt appreciation and thanks.)

So last night as I held that cassette tape in my hand, holding back a few of those sneaky tears, I remembered back to that time when my daughter was growing inside me. Remembering how nervous and excited I was to meet her, wondering what she'd be like, how she'd turn out, and whether I'd love - or even be able to handle - the job of being a mother, and whether she'd even like me. At the time I couldn't even comprehend the fact that some day she'd be all grown up and I'd have to find a way to let her go.

I knew that the Spotify Playlist I put together to prepare to welcome my baby out of the womb and into my arms would have to be the same playlist I would share with you today when preparing to let her go out of my arms and into the world. I'm renaming it though, to "She's Losing Her Baby."

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