- Published on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 17:00
- Written by Kerri Havnen Gordon
The note was waiting for us on the floor of our entryway when we returned home. It capped the end of an action-packed, fun-filled few days moving our younger son into his freshman dorm at the University of Oregon. While we were gone, our older son headed south for his senior year at UC Santa Barbara.
Written in our older son’s familiar scrawl, the note stated the obvious in three simple words: “You’re all alone!” This young man, who has always possessed a wicked sense of humor, knows he is loved and missed. So it wasn’t entirely clear whether he was trying to make us laugh or cry. Could have gone either way, but as luck would have it, we laughed – a lot.
Walking around the house just then, it still looked like boys lived here. A water pistol sat in the saucer of an orchid on our coffee table. Funny, I hadn’t noticed it before. The contents of a soccer bag, including a team roster dated Fall 2007, were dumped on the laundry-room floor. The boys’ bathroom was in its usual disarray.
In the kitchen, a large glob of batter had somehow landed on the towel rack and dried like concrete. Days before and in a hurry, I had made the boys’ favorite cupcakes – Ghirardelli chocolate with lemon cream-cheese frosting. Half the batch headed north to a dorm in Eugene, and the other half headed south to a house in Goleta. A little mothering to send the boys on their way.
It took a good week to tidy things up. Now the house stays neat, which feels pretty nice, actually. The dishwasher doesn’t need to be run twice a day, and the gas tanks in our cars don’t mysteriously deplete. The scissors and tape are always where I left them. But the large kitchen table looks out of place now; I need to remove a leaf.
A few days ago, we ran into some friends at the grocery store. They, too, had just sent their last child off to college. While my husband and I were choosing a bottle of wine to go with the Chinese takeout we had just ordered, they were buying two ready-made salads. We marveled at our light loads, that we only had to feed ourselves. Smiles all around.
And so begins our adult-centered life. The first weekend without the boys, we enjoyed the sort of activities previously passed over in favor of watching our sons play sports. We heard Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger speak one evening, and the next day we were treated to a day of sailing on San Francisco Bay with two other couples.
What, I wondered, should I bring on the boat? Grilled asparagus or baked Brie? Lovely, grown-up options, but before I could think it through, I was making cupcakes. Cupcakes, for six adults. How silly is that? Moving from a kid-centered life to an adult-centered one is going to take some time.