There were two other children, both girls, born on our cul-de-sac in 2000, but they came along early enough in the year so that they started school a year before Ben. That means that this very week, they’re starting their first year of college. Our families got together a couple of weeks ago for a cookout/s’mores-over-the-firepit event, before everyone got too busy with getting ready to pack, etc. (I unfortunately had been out of town and was en route home while it occurred, so I missed it.)
Over the years, it just happened that Ben became better friends with one of the two, who lived next door. One of their points of connection was riding together in the morning to school over the past six years. The practice did evolve over time. It started with her mother and me taking turns; as they grew older and schedules got more complicated, it became a bit more off-and-on. Last fall, though, they both needed to go in for an early class, and I was taking them every day. Suddenly in November, the changes started: first Ben got his license, so he could drive the two of them, and toward the very end of the school year, she became able to go by herself. Even though transporting one or both was occasionally a bit of a hassle across the years, I immediately missed those moments as soon as they ended.
For years, I’ve not listened to that much contemporary pop music; I tend to subject Ben to my tastes from the past when we’re in the car, and he actually seems to prefer it. Our neighbors have taken a different path on this front. Every so often–it might be out shopping, or in a restaurant–a tune will start up and Ben will say, “That’s a song that played on the radio when (next-door neighbor mom) would drive me and (next-door neighbor girl) to school.” Much of the time it’s something he pretty well detests–think “We Are Never Getting Back Together”–but not always. I believe “Little Talks” came to my attention via Pandora, and when it comes on, Ben says, “Yeah, I heard that with them, and it’s not too bad.”
So in memory of those trips to the middle and high schools with the now-young-woman formerly next-door, a toast: may you become the best nurse in Kentucky (or wherever you ultimately land).