Photo by Kristin Barron

The 'launch pad'

My son Sam’s “launch pad” is back. By “launch pad” I am referring to the sudden metamorphosis of one of our living room sofas to a staging area for Sam’s belongings and all-purpose rubble. It is both the essence of home and a point of departure for his frequent comings and goings.

During this past year this sofa was… well, a sofa. (It is grey in color and is the kind of coach that unfolds into a bed.) We enjoyed its customary use as a comfortable item of furniture while Sam was off at his first year of college. But the semester is over and Sam is back. It took less than an afternoon for this couch to revert to the full glory of its former “launch pad” state.

Ordinarily possessions of importance such as his laptop, camera and phone can be found on this sofa. Assorted chargers, cables and pens are kept there, mixed throughout. (Car keys and Sam’s lanyard holding his press pass continually work their way into the couch’s coils and cushions, leading to frequent, frantic searches.) Add to this a general patina of magazines, crumpled receipts and straw papers, and loose coins. Also included are various Stephen King and Ray Bradbury novels. Today, I also see that his electric razor, the phone book and a bag of pretzels have been tucked in the corners.

 The launch pad doesn’t particularly bother me. I am not a neatnik. However, there are times when its teetering piles get to be too much and a general clean-out is called for. We re-take this sofa for a short time. Visitors can even sit on it. But soon enough there is a relapse.

When it comes down to it, the launch pad reminds me of what it’s like to be young. Imagine being able to fit most of your valuable possessions on one living room couch. How little the young really need. How little the young worry. Worry comes with age and experience. In youth, everything seems to be an adventure. There must be a good reason for this sense of abandon. I speculate that nothing would ever get done without the young, since the rest of us are all “old enough to know better,” as the saying goes.

Right now, I am just happy to have my son at home. He has one college year done.

This week, Sam is finishing up his finals from his launch pad (dare I ever call it our sofa again?) He was able to come home from school early because he can take his final exams and write and submit his remaining papers online. (It is nothing like I remember—stealing up to the professor’s mail box with a paper past deadline, hoping to get it into the pile before anyone in authority gets to work.)

Sam won’t be home long though, before launching himself again—this time for a summer internship as a reporter at a daily newspaper in South Florida. I am sure I will worry about him as he embarks on this trip, but I also know that he is on to his next adventure.


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