Mothers and Daughters, Women

Clothing Optional

Say you live to be 80 years old. That is a good, long life. A bit better than average. That’s 28,160 days dancing on this earth.

That is a fine number but a decidedly finite one. How does the song go?

It’s only forever, not long at all…

Most days for most of us are unremarkable. We are such creatures of routine. So days, minutes, hours are meaningless in and of itself. Time spinning through an hour glass we are hopeless to stopper.

Life really comes down to those moments that distinguish themselves from the others in ecstasy or agony.

So here I sit sipping a Manhattan with my daughter and her customary glass of wine with this view at sunset. My daughter and I traveled to Asheville, NC to visit the Grove Park Inn and Spa. It is a mother and daughter retreat we had planned for sometime. When we planned it, Kate’s plan to move to New York had been tentative. Now, in less than two weeks time, she will be gone. How often life changes on a moment.

I will remember these two days with a mixture of awe and pain. I had never been to a spa, would tell you I am not a spa person. But I am a mother, and a spa seemed a grown up mother and daughter trip, a way for two women to share some time on equal ground. There was not time or resources for longer travel so we drove here to take a single day away from the chaos. Kate has so much to do before she drives up to her new apartment in Brooklyn, New York. And then who knows?

My brother and parents, and most everyone in my life, says she will come home one day, not to worry. No one really leaves the South. Yes, that seems true for most that I have known. However, I feel deep in my gut, a painful recognition, that this will not be the case with Kate.

My daughter may visit as she can, but she is never coming home again. In her heart, she has always been a New Yorker. Her father was from New York, and while I divorced him very early in Kate’s life, his family adored Kate and she spent many vacations in New York City. Every time she would come home, she would tell me someday she would live there, even when she was a tiny girl. So my emotions split between joy and loss during the two days in Asheville.

My daughter and I are as different as fire and rain and as alike as ice and water. The spa was enchanting place, far exceeding my expectations and far less awkward than I feared. We spent the day in pools, swimming laps, enjoying hot tubs, sitting in a steaming pool, sipping wine, and ending with long stone massages. We chatted quietly, but as usual as of late,  Kate’s attention was elsewhere most of the time.

When my daughter was little and new, she clung to me so fiercely, wanted to share everything with me, wanted to be included in everything. My mother used to fuss at me because Kate was so attached to me. I was told I would spoil the child into uselessness. My mother can rest easy now. Kate no longer clings to me at all.

At the beginning of our spa day, we were given a tour of the spa. We came to the woman’s whirlpool and sauna. The tour guide told us this area was clothing optional. I cringed with my own modesty. My daughter chose the optional bit.

I could not imagine being so bold. Kate has a confidence and courage I wish I could claim for myself. She is also young, brash, fiercely opinionated, and impulsive. That can and probably will get her in trouble or at least introduce her to some humility now and again. It is the way of things. She’s an adult, and she will have to learn like the rest of us do. My part is over now.

Time to let go. When clothing is optional, I have no say in what choice Kate makes. Life is now hers for the taking and the living.