My Scrambled Nest

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

When my husband and I picked up our son at his college dorm the other day for his three-week winter break, the first thing we wondered was, “What happened to the days of flinging a few wrinkled changes of clothes and a toothbrush into a backpack?”

We were astounded that it took two trips to haul all of our freshman’s luggage home for the holidays. First, we picked up a large duffel bag filled with jeans, T-shirts, pajamas, hoodies and hiking gear, along with a large basket full of dirty laundry and an enormous array of snacks (beef jerky, trail mix, granola bars and dried mangoes) so that he could make it through the first couple of hours away from the dorm. Then we returned for his six-foot double bass, his music stand and sheet music, plus all of the coats, sweaters, hats and gloves that he’d forgotten on the first trip.

His room now looks as though he never moved out, right down to the little piles of dirty socks and assorted CDs flung around the room like errant Frisbees. But of course, I’m not complaining. It’s wonderful to have him back in his sunny digs across the hall.

Probably none of us, though, are more delighted than the cat, who has yowled in my boy’s empty room since he moved out and is confused for days after her favorite family member magically appears for Sunday dinner, runs a load of wash, then is gone before she has time to “hair up” his Navy pea jacket. As I write this, she is sprawled in my son’s room on top of his empty duffel bag, covering it with her scent and keeping an eye peeled for handouts from my son’s cracker-cheese-and-salami plate — his fourth “little” snack before dinner.

Although I bravely made a holiday Costco run to load up on muffins, bagels, burritos, ravioli, cashews, tortilla chips, salsa, ranch dip, white cheddar slices, yogurt, avocados, blueberries, apples, chocolate chips, eggs, bacon and three kinds of juice, my son didn’t disappoint when he opened our fridge and carefully scanned the contents like an archaeologist studying ancient Sumerian script.

From my office, I heard the fridge shut, then open again several times, followed by a loud sigh and his usual exclamation: “We have nothing to eat!”

Ahhhh, yes. So happy to have him home. ☺️🎄





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