Street Parade in Zurich

August 10, 2009 at 10:22 am Leave a comment

When my daughter asked me if she could go, I had a funny feeling in my stomach. There was a special bus chartered to leave from the next town that would drive the two hours to Zurich, and then it would leave Zurich around midnight to bring them back.

Fears arose. What if she gets lost? What if she misses the bus? What if something happens to her? What if she gets totally drunk and disappears?

She will turn 17 in October. When I look back to what I did and had already done by the time I was 17, it gave me a different perspective. At the age of 15, I had several times gone by bus from my little town in the Hudson Valley and to visit my friend who was studying at Alfred University. It was a 6-hour ride, which included changing buses and a stopover in Binghamton. I enjoyed the stop and found a cute little clothing shop which became a regular part of the journey. My friend was male, and I spent the weekends with him in the apartment he shared with 5 other guys in the men’s dorm. Nothing terrible happened.

When I was 16 I took the train with my soon-to-be-boyfriend to visit a friend at Stoneybrook University on Long Island. That time my mother said I couldn’t go. It didn’t stop me. I was convinced that I had to go, and it was during that visit that my future boyfriend and I got to know each other. Usually we hung out with a bunch of people, but that train ride gave us the chance to talk without distraction. I came back home safe and sound.

Shortly before my 17th birthday, I departed for one year as an exchange student in Europe. Of course I had no fears at the time. I was just excited, though sad about leaving my boyfriend. Back then we only had letters and the telephone to communicate, and that was expensive. I got two calls that year — on Christmas Day — from my mother and my boyfriend. That was it. I returned home in July the following summer and was convinced that every teenager should have the opportunity to spend a year in a foreign country.

So I decided to let my daughter go, and I paid for the bus ticket in recognition of her good report card. That day and evening I spent with my friend who was visiting. We went to sleep around 1:30 am. I slept soundly, but did hear the key in the lock when my daughter got home. I breathed a sign of relief, rolled over, and slept some more.

The next day she told me about her wonderful day. It had rained, but some nice guy bought her and her friend an umbrella. As they were walking around, she heard someone yelling her name. There was a group of kids she knew, so they all hung out together.

She had a good time despite the rain. She enjoyed discovering this new city and told me what a wonderful place Zurich is. I listened to her description, looked at the map she showed me, and was glad I’d let her go. It was a good experience. I’m glad I was able to overcome my fears and let her go. One little step in letting go and accepting that she has to find her way and discover her world. Sigh!

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Sunday afternoon What’s the big deal? Self-acceptance and daily stuff

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