I'm in Florida with my two oldest, Grace and Spencer. Grace finished with college for the year on Tuesday, moved her things home, and we left the next morning to drive to Florida.
It was a very long drive, or maybe it just felt that way because I am getting old. I usually drive the whole way myself but on the last stretch of the trip, I let Grace take over.
Part of what made the trip long, was that we stopped at a park in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our route goes by Charlotte and I had heard about a pretty park there from Jackie McGuiness at Junkboat Travels.
Driving into Charlotte, Grace and I were both struck by how much it felt like our hometown Columbus, Ohio. It's a small, bustling downtown area, which, we noticed, is called "uptown" not downtown.
Charlotte is one of the cities that Grace is considering after she graduates from college. She put it on the top of her list after our stop at The Green.
The Green is a bookish park with author's names as mile markers and stacks of books as statues. We loved it.
We got to my parents' house on Wednesday night.
On Thursday, I drove over to St. Petersburg to pick up Spencer from college. I hadn't seen him since Jan. 3 when I dropped him off at school. I've talked to him on the phone and texted plenty, but there's nothing like hugging your kid.
We loaded up all of his belongings, filling a trash bag full of his big basketball shoes and tying his bicycle onto the top of the car since I forgot the bike carrier.
It's been a tough year for Spencer in many ways, but he's healthy and he persevered. And I still owe you all the "mafia" story. I promise I'll tell it someday soon.
Now Grace, Spencer and I are at my parents house for a few more days until we drive back to Ohio.
Meanwhile at home, Tucker finished his last day of high school.
Every year at our school, the parents and underclassmen line up for the seniors to walk between us on the last day. They go to the football field across the street and after a few speeches from the students, they release balloons (biodegradable) into the air.
I have missed this ceremony for both of my boys, but Earl has gone both times and took pictures. My friend Betsy also took some pictures of Tucker for me.
Tucker had an AP (Advanced Placement) test on Wednesday afternoon, so he didn't think he'd get to walk with the seniors. He really wanted to be a part of it though. He asked whether he could skip the exam.
The exam can be important because students can earn college credit. They take an advanced class all year and the official AP Exam is what earns them college credit. It doesn't affect their actual classroom grade.
To me, the college credit seemed more important than a few minutes on the football field, but maybe I wasn't thinking enough about the emotion of it all.
He ended up taking the test and still getting out in time to walk with his friends.
Here's a picture Betsy sent me that I love. I can picture him hurrying out of the test to join his classmates, afraid he'd be late, but no, there they were. He's smiling to himself with an array of friends behind him.
In a few more days, we'll all be home together preparing for a weekend of graduation and celebration.
Grace moves out in June, but until then, I'll have all my children together for a little while longer.