2012-08-12 – I’m not sure when I first became aware of Pete Seeger, but it couldn’t have been any later than the Summer of 1969, because that’s when I bought my banjo for $10 and a book of Pete Seeger songs. I haven’t thought about Pete Seeger for quite a while. My banjo has been in its case, decorated with an old peace symbol, for years. But I was down in the basement doing laundry and clicked on one of this week’s episodes of The Colbert Report and there he was. He would have been 50 years old when I began my short-lived banjo career. He’s still at his at age 93.
The Summer of 1969 was an important summer in my life. It was my last hurrah with my high school friends. We played music together. We worked together. And we stayed out late together, cruisin’ the streets and singing Pete Seeger’s songs. It was the summer America landed on the moon. It was the summer before I went off to college.
As I listened to the 93-year old Pete Seeger, I was folding laundry. I’ve been doing laundry since I began at the end of that Summer of 1969. This year, my son Cal is going away to college. This is his Summer of 1969, only it is the Summer of 2012. America landed on Mars this week, but not many people cared. Still, the music is important and Cal went to the Lollapalooza music festival last week with his friends. And they cruise the streets and stay out late (5:17 AM, this morning).
Thursday, we’ll pack his stuff in the car and head off to Grinnell, IA where he will be a freshman and responsible for his own laundry for the first time. But today, it’s still my job.
Cal is the baby. His brother Nat still lives with us, but he’s a working man now, and I don’t see much of him. After next Friday, I won’t be seeing much of Cal either. It will just be Kit and me (and the animals—good grief).
I’ve been preparing for the empty nest for several years now. Nat and then Cal have occupied my life for over 20 years. I have no complaints about that, but I knew that it was coming to an end and that I ought to be doing something to build an independent life for myself. Just at the time that my boys were doing the same thing.
And so I began to write more in earnest than I did before. I enrolled in school and earned a new degree. I have lists of projects for my newly re-occupied life.
But next week, I’ll be doing laundry again. The loads will be fewer. And the week after that. And he’ll be doing his own laundry.