Fall, a Season of Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Spring is usually the season we associate with new beginnings and fresh starts. As the plants and trees come back to life after lying dormant during the long winter months our hearts fill with hope. We look forward to the season of graduations, confirmations, and weddings, the ceremonies and celebrations that represent new beginnings and change.

I hadn’t thought about it until this year, but in many ways fall is really the season of fresh starts and new experiences. Fall marks the passage of children from necessary nap-times to kindergarten kids. Every new grade marks a milestone for students and the parents who shake their heads and wonder where the time went.

This year, fall brought about one of the most significant changes in my life since the birth of my first child.

On Wednesday August 21st Christian packed up the remaining travel necessities like snacks, Cd’s, and our not so trusty GPS.

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He somehow managed to squeeze the last few items into the back seat on top of an assortment of suitcases, duffle bags, and boxes which were piled as high as possible without blocking the rear-view mirror.

Christian and his girlfriend exchanged one of the longest pre-sunrise goodbye hugs in the history of young love. The sky was clear and dry, but our eyes were not.

We started our 17 hour journey with a stop at Wawa for a not-so-nutritious breakfast and a giant cup of coffee.

The last time we packed up the car to drive 1/2 way across the country was five years ago, the fall we moved from Omaha to Yardley. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the number of changes that have taken place since we moved.  Among the many changes, is the fact that Christian is no longer a boy; he’s grown into a mature and wonderful young man.

It seems like yesterday he was making a goofy face at me on the drive to Pennsylvania.

Christian in the car on our move

And it literally was almost yesterday that he helped me tackle a thousand mile drive.

Goofy face while driving

We abandoned our outdated GPS in favor of Siri fairly early in the trip. Our not so trusty GPS kept losing the signal and recalculating routes because it lost our location.  Christian’s foot was more than a bit heavy, so it’s a good thing I was driving when we pulled into this rest stop or he might have started his college career with a speeding ticket.

speed trap

I didn’t know until this trip, just how many goofy faces my son could make.

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Thank goodness he’s also willing to smile and show me his handsome face.

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It also turns out he’s a great multi-tasker. He can switch CD’s, text with his girlfriend and at least 5 other people while having a conversation with his mom. I seriously thought his phone was going to explode.

Our stop at “Steak n’ Shake” meant free wi fi.

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Another goofy face while pondering the menu selection.

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More texting (not sure what has happened to our technology free meal rule).

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And a giant Cookies and Cream shake topped with a mountain of whipped cream.

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We arrived at Kay and John’s at 11:02 pm, just like Siri said we would. After seventeen hours in a car it was wonderful to get a hug from family friends and have a glass of wine before falling into a comfortable bed.

We followed Jeff through the maze of morning traffic and I somehow managed to keep up with my oldest son’s lane changes. Orientation leaders directed us through the parking lot and provided instructions for the drop off.

It’s incredibly well organized, the kids on the orientation team load each student’s belongings into a large bin on wheels and before you walk back from the parking garage it’s in the dorm room ready to be unpacked.

The actual unpacking was a bit discombobulated, but that’s a story for another day. People kept mistaking Jeff for an incoming student and not an alum, which gave us some good laughs.

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The next two days were full of orientation sessions. It was all a bit exhausting and overwhelming. For the first time ever, I secretly kept tissues in my purse because tears kept creeping out at the most unexpected times.

Saturday was the final day of orientation and after lunch it was time to say goodbye for now. I snagged one of the orientation leaders and cajoled Christian into one more picture.

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Now begins my journey as an empty-nester and another season of change.

How to Lose a Guy in Seven Days

Last Saturday morning my cell phone rang, then the house phone rang, the cell phone rang again and then Christian’s phone rang, it was Katie. I wasn’t home at the time but I knew this to be the case because I had two missed calls on my cell phone which meant there had to be one missed call on the land line and there was big news in her world if the fourth call was to Christian.

She will call four times or as many times as it takes until she actually reaches a live person to deliver the news to rather than leave a voicemail. Katie is not a believer in voicemail, she will stand by her position that information is best delivered through direct conversation or a text message and that a ‘missed call’ on your cell phone is enough to say “I called, call me back when you have a chance.” Case in point, we’ve exchanged seventy-nine text messages in the past eight days.

“I talked to Katie. She has a date today,” Christian said.

“What! She has a date and she didn’t tell me?” I replied.

“Mom, did you check your missed calls?” he responded wryly.

I called her immediately to get the scoop. Her date was for lunch with a boy from one of her classes, his name and the fact that they met in class was about all I got out of her. I waited all afternoon and into the evening to hear how the date had gone. I speculated that it had either gone really well or really poorly when I still hadn’t heard from her and it was eleven pm. I have to admit it was about all I could do to respect her privacy and wait for her to call me.

I walked around with my cell phone on Sunday waiting anxiously.

“Hi Mommy,” she said.

“Well, how’d it go?” I asked.

“It was fun…he already asked me out on two more dates…”

“But….” I prodded.

“He didn’t pay for lunch,” she responded.

We talked about it and I suggested that maybe it was because he was a poor college student or that perhaps he was nervous and didn’t know the proper protocol.

“Ummm, the lunch was fifteen dollars and he picked up the ticket and said ‘Wanna go halvies?” was her reply.

On Wednesday she called to inform me that she was already thinking of ways to “let him down easy.” Apparently in addition to calling far more often than necessary after a first date, for which he didn’t pick up the tab, he also made the fatal error of leaving more than one voicemail just to say he was having a good day.

By Saturday morning the die had been cast and the only decision left to be made was whether it would end with an awkward conversation before or after the ‘date’ to the basketball game that evening. It turns out that it was too late to cancel the date; he had already purchased the tickets.

I couldn’t wait to hear the details so I called her as early as I thought I could get away with on a Sunday morning. She was at work so I got the recap via text.

“The bball game last night was so awkward, but I think he got the picture. Haha. Whoops…o well.”

Later, after hashing over the events of the evening and the likelihood of the remaining need for that ‘awkward conversation’ we agreed (with much laughter) that the key ingredient to losing a guy in seven days was ownership of a winter coat that is big enough to take up the space of a tightly packed army duffle bag and the placement of said coat squarely on the bench between you and your date.

I’m not sure what she’ll do come summertime.