Today Eleni Ann Kelaidis, my daughter, boarded an airplane for New York City to start a new life at twenty two. She is a beautiful young woman, with many talents and great charm. She has friends and a few relatives there, and has shown her independence and responsibility and growing maturity for several years now. Young people need to spread their wings and fly? Why, then, are my eyes full of tears?
I remember when she boarded the bus to go to school the first time. My GOD, she was only threeish at the time (whatever possessed us to start her in Montessori?), let alone at a school near Five Points when resonated back then with danger and layers of racist fear for whiteys like me. OK OK, I know I'm kinda brownish--but technically I'm as Caucasian as you. She was unusually brave for a child that size, and I shall never forget the way her leg reached up--really a stretch--to board the yellow bus, lunge up and fly away forever it felt like then and feels like now. I blubbered ridiculously then with pangs of separation (we'd be apart a full four hours or so, if you can imagine). And now, what are the chances I'll see her this year again? slim.
"To everything I say the word that cheats the lips and leaves them parted" says Nabokov, as he quietly bids his native tongue adieu as his literary vehicle. For those of us who are protective, who distrust the world a bit, to say Praschai to your children is one of the purest sources of poignancy. I've bid farewell to opportunities galore, to things I was tired of and things that were broken. I've separated from lovers and from a wife. To say good bye to children is for me a foretaste of death.
Dearest daughter. I wish you success and happiness and secretly hope some day your glorious future will magically bring you in proximity to me again, to listen to your lilting voice (not on a phone) and watch you move gracefully, my little gazelle, from room to room, from chamber to chamber of my grateful heart.