I am sitting in a coffee shop feeling both queasy and sad. The queasiness is because I pulled an all-nighter for the first time in thirty years. I drove Clare to Madison at 2am to catch a 6am plane to Taiwan. Taipei is the first leg of her adventure that will culminate with a semester in New Zealand. I did not get home until nearly 8 in the morning, and I can add staying up all night to the list of things that used to be fun, but no longer are. 

The sadness is that I won’t see my daughter for at least five months. I always feel a little bit empty each time she leaves for a month or more, but all previous departures have been, in comparison to her semester abroad, just a jaunt down the road to her college in Iowa. This one already feels like a killer.

That does not mean that I am not excited for her. One way or another this will be life altering. I think about my dozen or so moves before settling down in La Crosse, and each of them redirected my life. A couple of the moves could be described as misdirection, but the majority were wholly positive. The little I know about New Zealand suggests that it will be wonderful. The Lonely Planet book on the country says that Dunedin, the city where she will live, has penguins.  How can that not be great? 

It is now mid-afternoon, and I feel lousy. Even caffeine can’t jumpstart my brain, and I am a little surprised that I’m able to write at all. I am tempted to upload the first draft of this blog as is. It might capture in print my current mental incoherence. I also know that I am too proud to ever let anyone see my first drafts, so mostly likely you are reading something that has been heavily edited.* Didn’t the authors I most admire get drunk, stay up all night, then pen masterpieces?  If that is what it takes, then I’ve missed my window of opportunity. 

* I did edit this blog a week after it was first written. 

Steven Simpson