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By Delaine Fragnoli
Staff Writer 

I left my heart in Massachusetts


September 6, 2016  | View PDF

After a week away, I may physically be back in Plumas County, but a piece of my heart is on the East Coast. In Great Barrington, Mass., to be exact.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, at approximately 5 p.m., I relinquished my daughter to Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

When she said she wanted to go away to college, she wasn’t kidding. Approximately 2,423.2 miles away.

There is no quick or easy way to get from here to there. The nearest airport is just across the state line in Albany, New York. You can’t fly directly from Reno to Albany, so we flew from Reno to Chicago and Chicago to Albany, and then drove for 75 minutes.

It was a long day. We left our accommodations in Reno at 5:45 a.m. and arrived in Great Barrington at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

And there were … complications.

The day before we were to leave, my car decided to act up. I hurriedly dropped it with a mechanic and arranged for alternative transportation to the airport.

My daughter was so tired and stressed by the time we left that she had a stomach ache for most of the Reno-to-Chicago flight. The flight to Albany was delayed for more than an hour, which meant we made the drive to Great Barrington in the dark.

We were, however, accompanied by an enormous full moon, which we decided to take as a good omen.

The next day was spent shopping for dorm and school supplies. We managed to find everything we needed in town.

Great Barrington reminded me of Quincy with its quaint shops housed in old brick buildings in a central downtown area. Except it was much larger and more upscale and bustling with people and — humid.

GB sits in “the Berkshires.” Sometimes referred to as mountains, they are, in my unapologetic West Coast opinion, mere rolling hills. Scenic, yes; sublime, no.

Then came the big day. We schlepped all of her stuff to her third-floor (no elevator and no air conditioning) dorm room, where we met her roommate and her family. Did I mention it was hot and humid?

After lunch together and a number of orientation activities, the time came to say goodbye. We found a quiet spot on a boulder underneath a sprawling tree to say our goodbyes. To say we were blubbering messes is a charitable rendering.

Leaving her and returning alone to our my motel room was a difficult moment. An even more difficult one lay ahead.

I spent the next two days trying to recover at a yoga retreat center a 20-minute drive away. If she needed anything, panicked or discovered we had forgotten some essential item, I was a text and a quick trip away.

When it came time to leave the center for the Albany airport, I texted her one last time to see if she needed anything.

No reply.

She had warned me to expect “radio silence” while the college put all the freshmen through their paces in a “writing and thinking” workshop.

Even as I was returning my rental car, I told myself I could be back to buoy her in less than 90 minutes.

As I boarded the plane, that possibility began to diminish and, as the plane taxied, disappeared.

I had passed the point of no return.

I felt like a piece of my heart had been ripped from my body and thrown into the green, rolling hills of western Massachusetts.

She did ask me to send her safe arrival texts. I dutifully obliged when I landed in Chicago.

No reply.

I tried again when I landed in Reno, although it was nearly 11 p.m., 2 a.m. Eastern time.

No reply.

But when I got up the next morning, none too early, a text full of lovies greeted me.

I felt the hole in my heart close ever so slightly.


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