Empty nest not always so empty

Laurie Sontag

Last August we sent Junior off to college. It was horrible. I spent the entire day trying to be cheerful and happy, when all I really wanted to do was cry. Junior looked like all he wanted to do was get rid of his mother. I honestly think Harry could have stayed because the entire time he was helping Junior assemble the $3 million worth of useless dorm organization crap I bought*, he kept talking about how fun college life was and giving helpful advice on what co-eds to avoid and how keep track of your red Solo cup at a party.
Fast-forward a semester. I have not missed this kid. This is because last semester there was no opportunity to miss him. He popped up every Friday, ready to spend the weekend in Gilroy. On Sunday night, Harry and I would basically toss him out the door.
And then the weekends became longer. No class on Monday, so Monday night we’d throw him out. Then he’d stay until Tuesday, driving to school just before class started. By the time his finals took place, we saw more of him at home than we had his senior year of high school.
It was so frustrating. Other parents would talk to us about their sling shot kids and we’d wonder why ours wouldn’t even sling. We’d leave the house on Friday nights and go to dinner, only to come home to Junior inhaling the contents of the fridge and complaining that the dining commons served canned vegetables (in fairness, he is a Gilroyan, raised on LJB and farmer’s market produce).
And then this semester, it looks like I have an empty nest. He comes home a bit, but never for a weekend or a week. Or even more than a few hours. I mean, I’m totally crossing my fingers, because you know things could change. But Junior may actually like college. And college life. And college friends.
And honestly? Now I wonder why I complained. Last semester, I made jokes that he was going to be 40 and living in our nonexistent basement, but I didn’t mean them. Much. OK, I was a little afraid that would happen.
But the truth is, I kind of liked having him around. Also? He is very useful. The fridge was always empty of leftovers when he was around. Now it’s full of numerous boxes and plastic and things that quite possibly are sitting in the back behind the expired milk and coming back to life as a new alien species.
On the other hand, the semester is young. So I’ve adopted a wait-and-see approach. And just in case, I’m having plans made for a new basement in Casa Sontag. Because I like to be prepared.
*Seriously? Nobody needs a paper plate organizer that goes over a dorm-sized fridge. Or twenty set of plastic dresser drawers. Or a shower bag to keep shampoo in. I’m just saying.

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