Susanna Salk


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Collective Children
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

After dropping off my oldest son at JFK for his post-college life in LA, I am now packing my younger son for his last year at boarding school. In the basement, I couldn’t help open my box of letters and mementos tempting on the shelf next to where his dorm bedding has been all summer laying wait. It’s so easy to save relics from our past but far harder to revisit them this time of year when change seems to resonate for so many of us in different ways, especially for parents dropping off children for the first or last time at school. Three things were at the top of the box: funnily, a picture of Dwight and Holly Dando and me in London for those of you who read my story about that wonderful summer spent working for him in Martha’s Vineyard during college, can now can put a face to his storied self. Also a letter home during the first days of my freshman year at boarding school: I beg my parents not to come home, but rather to please save every copy of Vogue for my weekend return. Then I slip in that I’ve just had a friend put a second piercing in my ear but that it was good she did it because it saved spending money. Finally a copy of my eighth grade play Anne Frank. I was lucky to play Anne but far too young and myopic to even begin to grasp the irony of how her teen life was wrenched away just as mine was beginning. Tomorrow I’ll drop my son off at school and then the next day our wonderful exchange student from Sweden we’ve been hosting will begin his year at Taft. Soon my house will be empty the way his parents’ home has been for the past three weeks. I think of his mother’s email to me thanking me for taking him, her deep sadness at his departure only made easier by his known eventual return. I think how we’re all lending our children back and forth to each other over and over. It’s a boundless and boundary-less trust. I’ve never met his mother but I already feel like I’ve known her all my life.