My favorite photo: Molly

I shot this photo 11 years ago, when Molly was a seven-year old biologist who caught bumblebees and wished on dandelion seeds in the park across the street.

She admired Jane Godall, and told anyone who asked (and some who didn’t) that she planned to study orangutans in Borneo someday. Even though I knew that, at the time she professed her fierce love of the giant orangutans, Molly also was secretly afraid of dogs, I figured some day she’d leave. She seemed exactly the type of person to travel 9,000 miles away from home, live in the rainforest and study wild things.

She’s always been an adventurous little tyke and I guessed she wouldn’t live with me forever.

I spent those early years listening to her animated chatter and precise recitation of an evolving series of facts, including my favorite: for the first few years of their life, orangutans hold on tight to their mothers.

I’m sorry to say that orangutans, like the little girl who studied them, eventually let go, and scatter like seeds on a dandelion.

Though she won’t be studying orangutans, Molly will be leaving tomorrow for Morocco, where she’ll spend three weeks taking French classes and soaking in the culture. She’ll experience Ramadan, travel to Marrakesh and see the vast Sahara.

I’m excited for her, but I’m also her mom, so her official travel route GRB-MSP-CDG-RBA to me reads Green Bay, where she can always change her mind at the last minute and hang with us at the cabin for the weekend – Minneapolis, where her brother lives and can rescue her at any time – Paris, where everyone seemed very nice when we visited last summer and dear god please let them still be nice to my 18-year old daughter who is very smart but a little too mellow sometimes – Rabat, well, Rabat looks amazing, and, according to all of the travel sites I studied in the wee hours of the morning when I grow my best gray hair, seems entirely navigable with a little poise and a lot of common sense.

As I take Molly to the airport tomorrow, I’ll try hard to channel Jane Goodall, who said “There are certain characteristics that define a good chimp mother. She is patient, she is protective but she is not over-protective – that is really important. She is tolerant, but she can impose discipline. She is affectionate. She plays. And the most important of all: she is supportive.”

Go get ’em, Molly B. I’ll be right here, wishing on dandelions for cool adventures and safe travels home.


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