My Scrambled Nest

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

 

Nine months after we moved my son, his artwork, books and double bass into a dorm at the University of Utah, we made the trek again last week, this time in the opposite direction. Although my boy will be taking a full load of classes this summer, plus working part-time in a chemistry research lab, he’s decided that he’d like to spend a couple of months in his old digs before renting a house near the university this fall with three pals. Dorm life, he says, has become “stifling.”

Of course, I’m thrilled, and so is the cat. She’s already set up shop in one of his dirty laundry bags to absorb his aroma, and we actually made a trip to Old Navy to get my kid some new shorts so that he wouldn’t have to wash the ones that his old “roommate” has claimed. Yes, my son is a wee bit spoiled. But the cat! Damn.

It’s been fun to have the house vibrating again with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds cranked at full throttle, and I couldn’t stop grinning the other night when I heard my kiddo laughing out loud at “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” at 2 a.m. More than anything, I have missed that laugh. My kid is going into chemistry and takes his studies seriously, but he still knows how to see the humor in just about anything. Especially moi.

When I asked him to be my date at the Utah Symphony last Saturday, I fully expected him to grimace and say no, which was pretty much how he reacted to “nights out with Mom” in high school. But he’s grown a lot (literally and figuratively) in his first year away at college. Laughing, he said, “Sure! Why not? A date with my mother. Just don’t look at Facebook when we’re in public.'”

“Deal!” I told him, even though I always turn my phone off in Abravanel Hall. “I’ll do that if you promise to actually walk with me instead of rushing 20 paces ahead like I have the Ebola virus. If anyone thinks I’m a ‘cougar,’ that’s their problem. Be ready to roll Saturday night at 7.”

During the drive downtown, my son combed his hair in the passenger-side visor mirror and we cranked the Tom Petty CD he gave me last Christmas. Arriving with 10 minutes to spare, we bought some chocolate-covered blueberries and Mentos, then my kid actually agreed to pose for a selfie with me in the lobby for the first time ever. That moment alone was worth the price of admission. But the highlight of the night was stealing a glance at my son’s face during “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss (the intro was famously used in the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey”), and seeing a look of pure contentment and joy.

“Everything about it was perfect,” he told me later. “The horns and the timpani, the guy playing the chimes! Wow. Thanks for taking me. I loved it.”

As soon as we got home, he opened the fridge (I’d filled it with his favorite treats) and let out a dramatic sigh. “Mom! How is it that we STILL have nothing to eat?” He was kidding, of course. Well, maybe.

It’s a delight to have him back. ☺️❤️🐦

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