30 March 2012

Adventures Abroad


Two is in Europe with his high school choir, singing in cathedrals in Vienna and Prague. I hugged him good-bye at the bus stop yesterday, texted him once before he boarded his plane, and will not hear from him again until he lands next Friday. There are two reasons for this: his phone will not work in Europe, and he wouldn't bother to text me anyway. He went to Florida a few years ago with a friend, and didn't communicate with us once. Finally, the Captain sent him a "call your mother, you idiot" text, and Two got mad that we yelled at him from a thousand miles away.

Ah, the bliss of ignorant self-absorption.

Pappou, who spends his life traveling the globe, kindly sent an Italian phone for Two to use in case of an emergency. Two didn't understand why he would need it.

"In case of an emergency. You know, if you get abducted or something. Like that Taylor Lautner movie."

"Mom, if I get abducted, I'm going to beat the crap out of someone and then run for my life. I won't be looking for the phone."

"But can you fight as well as the Twilight kid, Two?" the Captain asked. "Which one is he in the movies?'

"Jacob. He's a werewolf," I said. "Right. Can you fight as well as a werewolf, Two?"

Two looked at us like we were nuts, his expression not unlike the one I fix on him when he does something inexplicably bone-headed. My eyebrows have been raised in stupefaction for so long, I look like Nicole Kidman. Hmmm. Maybe I could rent out the teenagers as an alternative to plastic surgery. No. My astonished expression acts as a natural eye-lift, but I have to color my grey hair more often. It's a wash. Damn.

It took a year of saving and planning to get Two on the plane, but there were all sorts of last minute items to get this week. Like euros, which do not convert dollar for dollar, thank you. Since when does our financial situation seem more dire than Europe's? Next year we should go to Greece, where they're hard up for cash.

I had to drop off all of Two's luggage at the school the night before, so it could be searched for illegal items. Yesterday, he went to school with his wallet, his passport, his iPhone for music, and my voice in his ear.

"Be safe. Be aware of your surroundings. Put your dress shoes in your garment bag when you hang it up, or else you'll forget them for your concert. Have fun."

I drove home and allowed myself a moment to think all the bad thoughts: Lockerbie, the Madrid and London subway bombings, the bus crash in the Swiss tunnel. When I knew it was time for him to board the plane, I texted one last time.

"Love you."

"Love you too."

Someday, he'll appreciate how much we love him. For now, the return text is good.


Author's Addendum: I take it all back. On Sunday, April 1, Two called from Europe! He borrowed a friend's phone because he couldn't get the Italian phone to work (which will frustrate Pappou). We talked for about five minutes, and he sounded great. At the end, he said, "I love you and miss you. Tell everyone I said hi." I might actually be sad when he goes away to college.




19 comments:

  1. This sentence absolutely cracked me up:
    "My astonished expression acts as a natural eye-lift, but I have to color my grey hair more often. It's a wash. Damn"
    When is your book coming out again? I can't wait to read it.

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    1. When the book is published, you will be the first to know! Before that happens, you'll also be subjected to my trials of querying, finding an agent, having an editor tell me to lose one of the kids in the book, or at least change a name, reading the galleys, etc.,etc. So...you have time to save up for the cover price.

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  2. It's been 12 years (gah!) since I sent my youngest, then 15 to Europe on a school trip; it's so hard, but soooo good for them. She had a blast and the experience can't be beat.

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    1. That's why we let him go. More than anything, I think our experiences out in the real world are what shape us. School is important, but seeing the world, meeting new people, enjoying the arts, all that can profoundly affect who we become as adults. Fingers crossed he looks beyond his sixteen year-old personal space and SEES what's out there.

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  3. I made myself horribly overbearing and repressive from the get go, so my kids would know what to expect when they were teenagers. ;)

    I'm sure Two will do fine. I'd just miss being there to see him.

    ("Can you fight as well as a werewolf?" *snort*)

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    1. I applaud your approach. Early on, my kids learned to sneak away when I was busy with a different brother. I need more eyes, or at least one in the back of my head-like that scary "Dick Van Dyke" episode I saw as a child, where Mary reveals hers. It made an impression.

      I have seen Two's abs. While impressive in their own right, they are not Taylor Lautner werewolf caliber. He would lose the fight.

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  4. Loved this post. I smiled the whole way through because, yes, I have been there. Even though my son will soon be 29 I still worry about him. The daughter, not so much because she's sensible and responsible. But that boy! I love him, but sheesh.

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    1. You're not making me hopeful about my future, Robena. My mother used to say "God watches over drunks and babies." I would have to include teenage boys in that category. I am amazed every day they manage not to get themselves killed. They are just oblivious.

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  5. And then there are my parents....

    When I was a freshman in college and went to Peru for three weeks -- three weeks! -- I called home once, mid-trip. It cost $3 a minute and what did my mom have to say when she answered the phone? "Oh, I'm glad you're having fun, but we have to take your brother to violin practice."

    Yeah, I don't think they worry.

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    1. Perhaps they had fully internalized the Serenity Prayer, or really embraced the idea of college cord-cutting. Frankly, if my children ever leave-and current grades indicate this may not happen-I hope to do the same. Of course, I'll need the memory of my own reckless college experience zapped by the Men in Black to prevent me from moving into the dorm.

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  6. He'll have a wonderful time, be totally clueless that you would worry about him (he knows he's fine so why would you worry?) and you'll have a few more grey hairs. It will be a great experience for him. Hugs!!

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  7. I'm making my hairdresser happy, with my ever-increasing visits. Two's favorite expression is "Chill, Mom." In that spirit, I have already informed everyone that we will not hear from him until late Friday night, so they can chill with me.

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  8. Awesome about the trip and brave you!

    I was and am always the sort to check in. I called my mom when our plane landed in Puerto Rico ON OUR HONEYMOON. Then I texted her pics every day. But I'm a girl.

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    1. I think there is inherent gender difference, but I can't say because I have no daughters.

      Umm, I don't think cell phones existed when I got married. I think the Captain only had a pager. I'm sure my mother employed the "State Trooper Rule": If something goes wrong, the Troopers will show up at your door. It works for me.

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  9. I'm sitting here - when I clearly should be asleep - trying to remember how old Callan was when we sent her to Europe with people to people. 12 comes to mind, but surely that can't be true. Maybe she was 14? No, I think that was the year she spent six weeks in Nova Scotia doing French Immersion. (Why can't I spell that? Is it an E or an I?) She might have been 13, and my family thought I was crazy to let her go. Only good stuff came of it.

    Every once in a while I panic, thinking how are my kids going to survive this. This being whatever it is that they are going through at the moment. But mostly I'm as oblivious as Two.

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    1. I believe one is "immersed," as in "I was so immersed in the daily requirements of living, I forgot to be afraid." Sometimes, that's how we survive it.

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  10. Both girls went on school trips across the pond. Both learned TONS, mostly about themselves. It was terrifying for me. And Dan. But look! Here we are to tell the tale.

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    1. It is amazing what we can endure in the name of love.

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  11. "Be safe. Be aware of your surroundings. Put your dress shoes in your garment bag when you hang it up"

    Some good general life advice.

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It is now incredibly easy to comment! Feel free to stop lurking, and add your opinion. Yes, I'm talking to you Moscow, and the Philippines. You, too, Australia. And what's going on down there in Georgia? Do you feel the same as Arizona? Let me know. Politely.