Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As The Girl boarded a bus in San Diego, headed for Mexico, it washed over me like a cold shower – “The next time i see her, she will be changed.”  A day later, she started her Semester at Sea, sailing around the world on a ship with 700 undergraduate students.  Six weeks later, i watched her disembark from that ship as it docked in Saigon Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  We spent a week knocking around Vietnam and Cambodia together – and seeing her confidence, i realized that i had been right.

We spent our last night there drinking beer in a cowboy bar, listening to a Vietnamese country and western band knock out respectable covers, including a memorable version of “Stand By Your Man”.  Her adventures continued the next day, and i began my journey home.  At 20 years old, she was well on her way to becoming an engaged, contributing citizen of Planet Earth.

She was changed.  She was broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Six weeks ago, i watched as The Boy boarded a plane for basic training.  The exact same feeling – “The next time i see him, he will be changed.”  He’d signed an eight year commitment.  All in.  A very challenging, and unknown path ahead of him.  Much like the Semester at Sea, i also knew that he would have very limited opportunities to communicate – adding to the parental anxiety.

Yesterday, i stood at the airport awaiting his arrival.  Two weeks of leave for Christmas break.  Happy holiday travelers filled the exit chute.  i hopped around in the coffee shop, nervously scanning the crowd, looking for military uniforms.  A few soldiers came by, but not mine…

“Oh, I just want to hug them all, don’t you?” said the sweet woman standing next to me.  She told me she was waiting for her mother to arrive for the holidays, but she just loved seeing the young soldiers in uniform.  i agreed, and continued to bop around nervously, waiting for the next pack to walk down the hallway.

i saw him.  Not breaking his bearing, he spotted me and cracked a tiny smile.  i bounced around the coffee bar and gave him a hug. “How did you get taller?  And what did they do with the rest of your hair?”  

“It’s the boots”.

As we turned to head for the exit, i spotted my coffee bar companion.

“And by the way, this lovely lady wants to hug you, too!”

We headed for the car, where i had secured his ‘welcome basket’ – a good India Pale Ale and a pack of smokes.  Non-stop conversation on the drive home.  Tales of bureaucracy, head games, physical challenges and “Shit My Drill Sergeant Said”.  Sick Bay and Hand Grenades.  Running his first seven minute mile (he was at nine minutes just a few weeks back).  And leaning forward into what lies ahead.

He is changed.  He is broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Coming Home

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34 thoughts on “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

  1. And she and he have you to thank for giving them opportunities to develop into the sort of humans that the world needs.
    I love that you like them as well as loving them – and I am wrapt that you gave the lovely lady a chance ot hug a soldier.
    Hugs to you. You brighten my world.

    • My ex-husband and i have both marveled at how our children turned out. We really had no idea what we were doing – and raising them was mostly an exercise in improvisational dance, and straight up survival. We all do enjoy each other a great deal, and that is a gift… Here’s hoping you have a wonderful holiday and that the year ahead of you brings better health for you and your mate!

  2. My cubs all passed this point long ago – safely, with growth and the sudden wisdom that parents DO know something after all. Now I am watching my eldest grandson, just a year younger than “the girl”, move into adulthood, not yet ready to move out of the nest but flapping his wings in learning and preparation. It is a really mixed feeling, isn’t it. Losing the kids and gaining some new adult friends in return. Kahlil Gibran was correct. “You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.”

    • It’s funny how i became an adviser to my spawn at some point, after having been nothing but an obstacle for so many years! Watching the next generation grow must be doubly satisfying – you get to watch your own children grow as parents, while seeing the little birds ‘flap’… Love that Kahlil Gibran quote… had gotten lost in my memory banks. i’m happy to have launched these two particular arrows!

  3. My older child just returned from his first semester at college. We’re amazed at the changes and the growth we’ve seen. I can only imagine the magnitude of changes you’ve seen eclipses what we’ve experienced. At University, he’s got a bed, meal plan, hot and cold running water for showers, and no drill sergeant. I’m enjoying watching the growth in our house….but my interpretations will never regale audiences as delectably as your prose.

    • Congratulations to your eldest on a successful first semester. Amazing how much can happen in few short weeks! The Boy has settled into life with ‘three hots and a cot’. It’s been fun watching him for the past two days with free time, and no real structure. He was a bit lost at first, but is adjusting back into a ‘normal’ routine….

  4. Holy smoke. What do they feed them in basic? Whoop ass on rice? Glad to see he secured a few weeks off for Christmas. I don’t suppose he’d be interested in starting a blog? Would he even be allowed? Might make for some pretty interesting reading.

    All good wishes to you guys over the holiday. Our Blogfather is in Cincy for a few days over Christmas and then here in New York. The wheel keeps turning, doesn’t it?

    • Whoop Ass on Rice now comes in “Meals Ready to Eat” form, i think. Yeah, he lost a bit of weight and leaned up quite a bit in just 6 weeks. He had been working out hard before he left, too. He would never do a blog. Isn’t even on the eff-books. He is keeping a journal – listing “shit my drill sergeant said” buried in the back. My favorite so far – “You guys look like a fucking bag of smashed assholes! Un-fuck yourselves!”

      i will be seeing our BlogDaddy later this month! Can’t wait! He gets more gorgeous every year, doesn’t he?

  5. Yep, he is deeper, and stronger, and smarter… just like the broad that is his wonderfully proud and extremely special mother. I’d like to hug her too, amongst other things.

    • i’d welcome that hug… but you’ll have to promise to go easy on me! Got a bum shoulder still, and a broken finger that hasn’t yet healed. You can be rough on the other parts, though!

      • I am not readily known for my tenderness, however in special cases a big hug and the occasional need to spoon can work wonders for the soul. Not to mention a bottle of brandy and a few gentle exercises. However, i’m thinking, page 10, the Tominagi, may have to wait until you have completely healed.

        • not sure i can pull off page 10 yet, but if i shift to my good shoulder i’m pretty sure i can cover ‘the kneeling wheelbarrow’ and ‘joyful goat on the roof’.

        • fortunately for me, the way to a a man’s heart is generally through his funny bone! i have also learned that i can access other interesting body parts as well…

  6. I thought I replied already… I know how proud you must be. You did a fine job. If someone did a compilation of “Shit my drill sergeant said” from all of basic, it would make an amazing book. Jesse has some of his own contributions, of course, as does Lynette.

    My favorite story regarding drill sergeants comes from Lynette, who did her initial training near San Antonio, at a school which also trains drill instructors. Apparently, becoming a DI is a pretty stressful training stint. Anyway, she was highly amused one day to walk through the compound and find the DI trainees on their latest assignment, which was to stand in front of a tree and dress it down at the top of their voices. She wondered if the only way you got a good mark on that assignment was if the tree dropped its leaves…

    Have a wonderful holiday. Love the cookies…

    • The story of the Drill Sergeants in Training cracked him up! i believe he would eventually make an excellent DS, but he’s got a long way to go before that ever becomes an option! We are having a grand time, and he is catching up on books, sleep and music. Hope you enjoy your holidays as well! Life is good! 😀

  7. The Wilderness is a tricky place and i’m quite happy that the boy has gotten through it, with a little help from his momma of course… and you know i started yesterday by talking to my old man for almost 2 hours and finished it making cookies, drinking Chrimbo beer (Penn Brewery’s St. Nickolas Bock-Kono Approved) and listening to records while the boyos made their daddy pictures, the lights from the tree twinkling in and as i stood in my kitchen watching Nick Disaster diligently work on his drawing (pirate ship) it hit me, i was finally out of it, like standing in a clearing and feeling the warm sun, that through all the years and trouble and insanity i had come to this moment of simple beauty… and i couldn’t help but smile…

    and then the timer went off and i had to get back to baking.

    • He got himself through it… well, i didn’t kill him along the way, so i guess i did contribute in that regard. i’m enjoying a few Christmas Ales myself these days… and drinking Bailey’s in my coffee for breakfast. My poor liver hates this month…

      Delighted to hear that you’ve got a happy holiday groove going on with the boyos. What a beautiful moment. Remember it. Remember everything about it. i can still conjure such moments from the past, and i try to do it sometimes just to make sure i still can…

  8. It must feel strange, watching one’s own offspring change like that after the relatively stable teenage years where your lives are so closely interlinked. I’ve got all this to come in a few years–even perhaps through less dramatic situations than joining the Marines or going on a sailing university for a term–so it’ll be very interesting reading about it all.

    That and your flirting with Chef, which has been one of the blogjoys of 2013! Merry Christmas to you all from Lancashire.

    • “relatively stable teenage years”? i think i experienced that with The Girl, but there was no such thing with The Boy. it was a fucking roller coaster! my battle cry was “keep him alive til he’s 25”, as male brains aren’t really fully developed until that age… female brains get there a few years earlier.

      Your girls will take you on quite an adventure – even if they stay at home! One friend observed something about how my ex- and i raised our spawn that may have been a key to their adult independence. “If you raise children for 18 years, you’ll fail. Success comes from raising adults.” They both bounced back a couple of times, but indeed have found their own footing…

      As for the good Chef? Truly a man who likes to live dangerously, past and present. Flirting with this old girl might be the thing that does him in… i have far more cash than good sense, and could easily show up on his doorstep!

  9. I meant to ask, were they both born on a Thursday, as they seen to have far to go? I was, on Thanksgiving to be exact. My wanderlust is only contained by my body and finances. Thanks to the intertubes, however, my soul wanders vicariously with you and yours.

    • The Girl was born on a Sunday morning. i remember this because i spent my night in labor watching a pre-season football game, which was attended by my obstetrician…

      i had to look up the day of the week for The Boy — it was a Wednesday, around 5pm. i was induced in labor that morning, but had to be filleted by the end of the evening due to fetal distress.

      Happy to have you along for my wanderings… sometimes i wonder if it seems to be gloating when i share the travel tales… that is not the intent, but i never know how it comes across. it’s been my observation that ‘happiness shared is happiness squared’…

      • I don’t see it add gloating, I just like seeing travel pictures, knowing that unless I win the l lootery, it’s beyond me. One of our mutual blog friends had been in Amsterdam over the holidays, and another of mine is currently in Rome. Yet both take glorious pictures, and I’m in seventh heaven. A guy I follow on Tumblr is currently somewhere tropical, and a guy i follow on Instagram travels all over the West Coast taking pictures of beautiful scenery in out-of- the-way places. I am quite the armchair traveler, and don’t have to put up with the TSA.

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