My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

After moving my son’s books, clothes, rock collection and double bass into his dorm room and meeting one of his three roommates (each of the guys gets his own room and shares a kitchen, living room and two bathrooms), I offered to stick around and help him to get everything arranged. “Nah, that’s OK,” I was told. “You guys can go home. I’ll get to it, later.”

I smiled, suddenly realizing, “Of course.” This is my son’s first space of his very own. When I moved into my first apartment at age 19 (a memory that I will post about sometime), I felt the same way.  So I fought back tears and hugged him goodbye with my husband and daughter, then we returned to a home with a vibe that is now forever changed.

I kept myself busy the rest of the afternoon finishing a magazine story that was due the next morning and avoided looking inside the quiet and deserted room across the hall. It wasn’t until later, when I stopped by Shivers drive-in on my way home from the gym for an extra-tall lemonade, that it suddenly hit me: My son was sleeping elsewhere tonight. The nest truly was half-empty.

As soon as I walked in the door and spotted the drive-in’s little train booths for toddlers, I burst into tears, suddenly remembering that I’d once brought my son there for a playdate. Then I started laughing when I remembered how he’d accidentally squirted ketchup all over the table and his friend’s new fall sweater. The woman working behind the counter looked like she was ready to call the cops, so I quickly ordered my lemonade and hightailed it home, feeling a little down at this new rhythm that will take some getting used to.

Later that night, overwhelmed by sadness, I took a long walk in the dark, sobbing as I walked past my son’s old elementary school and the back of the soccer field where he used to spend second-grade recess gathering insects with his friends for their “Bug Club.”

And then, when I came home, I found the following text:

“Mom — the television won’t be hooked up here until next week. Can I come home on Sunday to watch ‘Game of Thrones?'”

Can he come home?

Somehow, I’ve managed to get through life without watching a single episode of “Game of Thrones.” But I’m about to start.

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