10:39 PM: Self and hubby walked in the front door barely ten minutes ago. The house was cold, the beagles swarmed excitedly about our legs. When self checked their water dish she found that it had barely been touched.
Hubby switched on the TV almost immediately: The Forty-Niners got trounced by Seattle, he reported.
Among the loot we lugged in from the car: garden tools purchased at 50% off from garden store called Common Ground, across the street from the San Luis Obispo mission; a doggie bag full of cheese and steak quesadillas from Tahoe Joe’s (lunch); four ice cream spoons from Doc Bernstein’s in Arroyo Grande; a metal sculpture in the shape of a beagle from a garden store we passed while walking to Doc Burnstein’s; a map of San Luis Obispo County showing the locations of all kinds of plant nurseries, including the headquarters of The Luffa Company (in Nipomo), purveyor of 95% of all luffas in the United States, and, for that matter, the world.
In our stomachs: untold glasses of iced tea; cheese and steak quesadillas, rib-eye steaks, peach sorbet, chocolate and peanut butter cup ice cream; seared albacore tuna; salad greens with Ponzu sauce; assorted sushi; beef teriyaki.
Son says he may be able to return home this Thanksgiving. We saw with relief that his room was neater than the one he occupied last year. It’s his third year in Muir Hall, his second as Resident Advisor. On the message board outside his door, someone had scrawled: Hi Andrew, we missed you! There’s a gaggle of names self can’t make out.
Son still talks about traveling cross-country during the holiday break. “I’ll bring my laptop,” he says. “That way I can send you pictures of wherever we are.” Their destination is Baltimore. Self tells him he must not miss the American Visionary Art Museum.
Next year, he says, he’d like to go with some friends to Hong Kong. Self’s eldest brother lives there now with his family. When we were there, last summer, self and son had the vast, empty apartment all to ourselves. At night we never tired of staring out at the lights of the surrounding buildings.
Son also says he’d like to travel right after he graduates. Perhaps, he says, he’ll backpack across Europe with some friends. Self tells him she was thinking of applying for another residency in Mojacar; wouldn’t it be great if she did it at the same time that son was in Europe? Then he’d be able to visit her in Mojacar. In response there is only silence, and since self doesn’t know how to leave well enough alone, she repeats, “Wouldn’t that be great?” After a few seconds, she hears from the back seat a slow, reluctant “Yeah.”
When hubby and self were in son’s room, just before heading back, there was this awkward moment when we all stood around, torn between going and staying. Self looked at son and noticed he wasn’t looking at us, his mind was on something else, and she opined that he was probably wanting to rest. So hubby and self walked out. Just as we were about to drive out of the parking lot, hubby told self to slow down: he expected son to be standing at the entrance to Muir, waiting to wave us off, but he wasn’t there. A few seconds later, we saw him, talking to a few other students who’d just been kicking a ball around on the grass.
Self did the driving until Soledad. Then, her neck began aching something awful, so she poked hubby in the ribs and woke him up and they switched places. Then self fell asleep. Two hours later, we were home.
Self thinks of the article she read in The New York Times last week, the one about the freshman attending some Eastern university who, homesick, returned home unexpectedly three weeks into her first quarter. And discovered to her dismay that her parents had completely transformed her room: it was now a guest room, and many of her things had been put into storage. There was only one thing of hers on the walls of the re-decorated room, a postcard she’d sent to her parents from her new school.
Self simply can’t imagine changing a thing, not one thing, about son’s room. It is still exactly the same as the day he left it, in 2004. But, this afternoon, as self was soliciting son’s opinion about the beagle sculpture she wanted to put in the garden, he’d replied: “Why don’t you decide? I don’t live at home anymore.”