Artist: Steve Young
Album: To Satisfy You
Song: "The River and the Swan"
For hours, for days, for weeks I packed. Record crates, poster tubes, cartons of books, hangers full of jackets, suitcases crammed with clothes, piles of photographs, stereo equipment, towers of compact discs, bed, dresser, and nightstand. The night before the move to California I still found myself playing God with stray belongings, what to bring and what to leave behind. When the bric-a-brac became too minute, my knees buckled and I collapsed on the staircase leading to my mom's basement, a barnacle-crusted anchor colliding with water's sandy bottom. I heaved heavy tears into the crook of my arm. Appearing in the frame of the staircase, my mom wanted to know why I was crying. Was I OK? I wondered how I would find homes for the last details in these dwindling minutes and was I insane for deciding to move so far west, a plan that still carried the fragrance of wet paint?
Mom had found a few issues of Playboy in a gym bag the first time we talked on the creaky and carpeted stairs. That incident was a dozen years prior. I felt embarrassment then; now I felt doubt's tugging undertow. Sitting at my side, mom reassured me that I was making the right decision to try something bold, to see another place in this world. If the noble adventure ever stopped being fun or meaningful, she would still be here to welcome me in her arms.
Perhaps I cried enough for mother and son. Mom remained of resolute voice even as she helped send her only child out into the great expanse. I'm sure her tears fell hard after I set out the next morning, car and trailer rumbling for parts unknown and future unimagined. This particular Steve Young song, "The River and the Swan," reminds me of the stoic facade a parent must have when the nest becomes too small, but the love remains unconditional.