When They Begin The Overture They Start To End The Show

The year is barreling along, and the end of the summer is looming. I know, summer’s not even officially here yet, as evidenced by the outdoor temperature hovering below 100 degrees. Even so, it is hot enough for multiple showers a day (I SO wish we had a pool!), fans blowing directly on me, and antiperspirant that pretty much just says, “Fuck you.” This means our electric bill will be ridiculously high, and we are constantly on the brink of dehydration. People tend to forget that this city used to be a desert not all that long ago.

Matt is taking the summer off from school and concentrating on work and music. He texted me some fabulous lyrics a few nights ago, so I’m interested to see where he goes with them. I wish he would work on some instrumental songs, as he is supremely talented at it, but creativity works best when stretched, like a muscle. While we still plan to build him a new bed, next week we’re going to paint his apartment and install shelves. I think I’ve managed to talk him into a neutral palette of navy and grey, with red accents. He wants grown up and sophisticated, modern and minimal. I can pull that off in my sleep. He can use dark colors because he doesn’t have any animals. Ron hates our navy blue sheets because they show every speck of cat hair, so I think Matt will inherit them.

Aubrey is counting down the days until we leave, in spite of us still waiting on her financial aid package. The question still remains; western New York, or Massachusetts? We won’t know for a few more weeks, and I’m starting to feel that anxiety in my stomach. Much more of this and I’ll have to up my Klonopin until that damn letter gets here.

She still has a few months of work left and desperately needed new shoes. She’d literally walked her old shoes to nothing. I talked her out of a crappy pair of Payless shoes and had her go try on some SAS shoes. She loved them, but wasn’t thrilled with the price. Yesterday, we went up to the outlet mall only to find out that they don’t really have an outlet, other than at the factory which is about 20 minutes from our house, as opposed to the hour it takes to get to the outlet. She didn’t care, and didn’t want to wait, so she bought them at full price. Her coworkers were horrified at the expense, but when she got home this evening, she was quite happy. Her knees and back didn’t hurt, and neither did her feet. She deemed them worth every penny, and since she takes great care of her clothes and shoes, they will last her for a very long time. Most people don’t know about SAS because they don’t advertise, but they are the best shoes made in the US. They are fantastic for flat feet because of the arch support, and they have plenty of cushion. The inner soles are removeable for washing, and can be replaced when they wear out.

While we were at the outlet, we walked past NY&Co, and I saw some cute t-shirts through the window. We went in, and while I ended up not getting those shirts, I did see some black button downs. Aubrey’s been wearing a boys size 10 button down, which fits everywhere except for the arm length. These shirts are short sleeved, and came in extra small, so they actually fit her, and she’ll be cooler under her blazer. With her all black suit and shoes, she’s perfectly outfitted to work in New York, should she choose.

I am still trying to squeeze in quality time before she’s gone. Last Tuesday was really nice because I spent the afternoon with both kids. We went to lunch and Matt recorded Aubrey singing; she sounded great, but the background music was dreadful. We’ll try again after Matt gets his new software and some new monitors.

It’s a strange feeling to see them so grown up. It’s like it happened overnight, but I blinked and I missed it. Somehow Matt went from being a mess to being a responsible student who is gainfully employed. Aubrey is this uber-confident young woman who is comfortable in her own skin, making new friends easily, and generally running her own life. I know this means I am a successful parent whose done her job well, but every now and again, I miss the mess and noise and angst. Our house was “the house” where everyone hung out, watched movies, spent the night…now it’s too quiet, and it’s only going to get more so.



I Want Money (That’s What I Want)

It’s been a quiet sort of three days with Ron home. He had banked so many vacation days, he couldn’t bank anymore and was about to start losing them, so he took Monday through Thursday off. All he’s done is study, study, study…oh, and cook, and do the dishes, and keep me floating in coffee. Since he’s studying, Aubrey and I try to keep our noise level down somewhat, although he still says we’re too loud.

Aubrey went to the band audition last night, and ended up staying until 11:30pm. I finally had to threaten to watch the New Girl finale without her in order to lure her home. Is anyone else as happy and tickled as we are with the way the season ended? I can’t wait until the fall! Anyway, Aub said the band is really good, but their repertoire doesn’t quite match hers, so it will be awhile before she’s singing with them. Aubrey can sing just about any style, but finding individual songs that they all know is more difficult than it might seem. Other than that, it turns out that after practice, they all hang out and eat dinner together, and Aubrey was invited to join them, hence her lateness.

Now I’m wondering what to do with my time. Camping wiped me out (fibromyalgia SUCKS!), so I’ve been resting a lot, and have gotten sucked into the facebook game of Puzzled Hearts. On the upside, I’ve met some really cool people. On the downside, I’ve met some seriously religious nuts (who are still nice, btw…just nuts). It’s amazing what an overlap there is between the fanatics and the government conspiracy theorists. Players aside, I have a short attention span. I’ll play something fanatically for days, and then I’ll never look at it again. Normally I stick to Shockwave.com or Big Fish Games; this is the first “social” game I’ve played in the four or five years that I’ve been on fb.

I finally finished the body of my cardigan that I started last week, and just have to do the sleeves now, then give it a wash and block it. I won’t be able to wear it until fall, unless we get some global climate change induced cool weather. Yeah, don’t see that happening. But at least I’ll have something light to wear in the cool August nights in New England. So maybe I’ll work on those sleeves, or (more likely) maybe I’ll start a project that I am making for my friend Leigh as a thank you gift.

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We’re still in a holding pattern, waiting for Aubrey’s financial aid letter to arrive. I hate that they send the bill before sending the financial aid letter; that is one scary looking bill. I’ve had less frightening bills from hospitals. Seriously. Matt is also in wait-and-see mode, as his application makes its way through the ACCD bureaucracy. As he explained it, his verification letter goes through five different people before it is finally entered into the computer system. It’s quite ridiculous, especially since students can attach tax returns to the FAFSA, which eliminates the need for verification in the first place. Since this is the first (second?) year that they have allowed direct IRS attachment, there is the excuse that the system isn’t in place yet, but seriously, how hard is it to enter a school id number into a screen, see that the return is attached, and approve the student?

I think even if Aubrey (for any reason) doesn’t go to school or move this fall, we will still take our trip, at least as far as Tennessee. Not that I have any great urge to see more of the South, but I know she really, really wants to go, and if she can’t get the financial aid to go to school, she will need some serious cheering up.

I am facebook friends with several of Aubrey’s high school friends, and it gives me a hilarious insight into the thought process of the average 20 year old. Today, one of them posted about how it’s none of a parent’s business what their child majors in (said by the kid majoring in photography at a state school in a state where she is not a resident). Of course, this is the same child who argued with me that, although she doesn’t recognize every religious symbol of every world religion, EVERYONE ON EARTH knows what religion is symbolized by the Cross. I pointed out that I am 100% positive that a large portion of Australian Aborigines have no idea what a Cross symbolizes, and there are still some tribes in the South American rainforests that have never encountered Christianity. Personally, if this were my kid, I’d bring her home and send her to a community college, because that tuition is seriously being wasted.

This reminds me of the night that I sat at a booth in Blanchard Hall at MHC and listened to the group of girls behind me discussing the ever-imminent threat of MHC going co-ed. One of them had written a letter to the school paper, and was reading it out loud to her friends. I was so impressed with her eloquence, and jealous that at 20, she was a better writer than I was at 42. Yes, I’m sure the state school that Christian girl goes to is quite good, and has plenty of smart people, but when you’re talking about upwards of 20,000 students, the odds start to fall.

Which brings us back to Matt, and his problem of where to transfer after he graduates with his Associates. He doesn’t want to stay in Texas any more than we do, and is once again considering Seattle. He could work for a year, and then apply to schools, or he could attempt to find one with decent financial aid. He has to start applying this fall, as he will graduate next spring.

I guess I’m just feeling prowly and rambly, never a good combination for me. I get wanderlust so easily, which translates into a mish-mash of thoughts disguised as a blog post. Sigh.

There’s A Break In The Cup That Holds Love

Mother’s Day brought good and indifferent. I had lunch with my son and husband, which was fun. They traded tech support horror stories, and Matt and I enjoyed the $2 margarita specials. Unfortunately, we had to have him back by 2:15, so he could start work at 2:30. He also has finals this week, and had to work on a project for one of his classes, so it was sweet that he took the time out to spend with me. Of course, I’m sure lunch had a lot to do with it, as Matt is a poor, starving college student who never turns down food that isn’t ramen or hot dogs.

Aubrey had to work a double, so she left at 9:45am, and didn’t get home until almost midnight. However, she brought me my two favorite desserts from where she works; brazilian cheesecake and key lime pie. We watched the season finale of Once Upon A Time, then a few episodes of Fringe before we both passed out. We were wiped out from our two days of camping, and Aub had not yet had time to rest.

We were all supposed to meet up with my mother, nieces, nephew, and stepdad, but she called to cancel. She said my stepdad made surprise reservations in Fredericksburg for the seven of them. Yes, I was not invited to have lunch with my own mother on Mother’s Day. I think that pretty much encapsulates our entire relationship.

All day long, I kept seeing facebook memes about mothers and Mother’s Day and great relationships. I figured I could either be hurt, or I could be grateful that my children are absolutely fantastic, and just appreciate being a mother. I chose to be grateful. It’s really not worth being hurt, as it doesn’t change anything. I refuse to be bitter, and accept that it is what it is. I’ve written enough posts about my lack of a relationship with my mom, so it shouldn’t be a huge shocker to anyone that I was excluded.

Anyway, on a much happier note, Aubrey is supposed to audition for a band this week! After her ass kicking performances on Thursday night, I decided that she needs a performance venue. I looked on craigslist to see if any bands were looking for vocalists, and found a somewhat decent one that does originals as well as covers, and they are looking for a female lead. I sent them a link to Aubrey’s modeling video with her singing in the background, and the guy loved it. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that these two guys are 20 and 21, and Aubrey is supermodel gorgeous.

Ron calls this need for me to intervene “helicopter parenting.” I disagree. I think it’s a parent’s job to support their children in pursuing their dreams, and if Aub wants to be a professional model/actress/singer/whatever, I’ll be right behind her, waving a flag and telling her how awesome she is. I do that with both my kids. Matt has been discovering a lot about his chosen profession, and I’ve spent many phone calls talking with him about which direction he wants to go, what classes he’s taking in the fall, what he’s going to do for his internship…the biggest difference being that Matt is of the age where he just checks in with me but makes his own decisions. Aubrey still needs me as part of the process. As her confidence has grown over the last year, though, I’m seeing that less and less.

Because Ron doesn’t look at any stuff that I post, write, record, or video, he often misses stuff. All he’s heard is Aubrey’s experimental singing while she does dishes or cleans her room…she plays with harmonies and does weird vocals, which has paid off for her. So when I was on the bed the other night, with Ron at his desk and not wearing his headphones at that moment, he finally heard her singing on the video that I sent the band. Ron is extremely particular and normally hates female vocalists, but he’s been going on and on for the last two days about how great she sounds. He was still having flashbacks to the John Deere Green talent show days, when I’d make her sing the song, correct her, and make her start again. By the time she performed something, we’d all heard it a thousand times, and even Aubrey hated the song at that point.

Now? She sings songs I’ve never heard, and does them perfectly. I don’t have to tell her to practice, nor do I have to listen to her note by note. She’s got this.

She hasn’t yet heard from the band guys, and even if she doesn’t, or if she does and they don’t want her, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a career option for her, any more than I doubt that Matt will be a famous musician in addition to being successful on the business end of things. Both of my children have musical talent pouring out of their mouths and hands, and Matt has the charisma required to do well in business.



Aubrey singing John Deere Green

So even though my mother has no need for me, I’m cool with that.  I am an awesome, incredible, bad-ass mom. Mother’s Day is MY Day.

“I try so hard to please you
To be the love that fills you up
I try to pour on sweet affection,
But I think you got a broken cup.

Because you can’t believe I love you
I try to tell you that there is no doubt,
But as soon as I fill you with all I’ve got
That little break will let it run right out.

I cannot make you happy.
I’m learning love and money never do
But I can pour myself out ’til I’m empty
Trying to be just who you’d want me to.”

Riders On The Storm (part 2)

“Crap!” Thelma and Louise exclaimed at the same time. For a moment, they just sat there staring at the gate, willing it to open of its own accord.

“Okay, you stay here and I’ll run up to the park office and see if there’s a code written on the door or the wall or something.” Thelma climbed out of the car, jumped over the metal poles that made up the gate and walked the 50 feet or so to the ranger station. She looked at the various pieces of paper that were stapled and taped across the entrance side of the building, but there was nothing with four digits written on it, other than phone numbers. It was almost 2am, and although being locked out was an inconvenience, it wasn’t life threatening, so she didn’t feel comfortable waking a park host or calling the emergency number.

She walked back to the car, where Louise had turned off the engine and turned on the hazard lights. Louise opened the door and called out, “Any luck?”

“Nope.” Thelma eyed the gate and considered the barriers to either side. Maybe there was a way around the barrier to the right of the car? She walked into the grass, using her phone’s flashlight app to light her way, and hopefully scare off any snakes lurking in the tall grass, or any other animals, for that matter. As she followed along the retaining wall that joined the barrier, she found that it went right up to the tree line. No way around it, and nothing to show for her efforts other than a large gash in her foot where she snagged it against a branch of mesquite on the ground.

Louise looked up expectantly as Thelma came back around, but Thelma just shook her head no. Thelma suggested, “We could just leave the car here and walk the mile in to the campsite,” but Louise pointed to the sign that said, “No Parking Anytime.”

They both stared at the gate again, trying to think of a solution. Normally, they were great problem solvers, but neither of them could see any way through the three locks that held the poles together in the middle.

“When you looked at the office, did you look in the window to see if maybe there was a code behind the register?” Louise questioned Thelma.

“No, I didn’t think of that.”

Louise said, “I’ll go up and take a look around. Maybe you missed something. Use your phone and google to see if anyone might have posted the code online.”

“Great idea! People always post stuff they’re not supposed to,” Thelma agreed. She took out her phone and typed the park name and the parameters “gate lock code.” A few seconds later, the results came back with three links that looked like good possibilities. She clicked on the first one, but it was just a review that mentioned that the gate was locked at 10pm. “No shit,” she mumbled.

Thelma clicked the second link, which was an RV forum. Again, it was just someone complaining that the gate was locked at 10pm, and they refused to stay at that park because it wasn’t worth the danger of not being able to get out if a fire got out of control. “Useless!” She clicked the third link. Finally, she found something useful, but not in a good way.

Louise opened her door and sat back down. “I didn’t see anything. Did you find a code online?”

Thelma relayed the bad news. “No, and it wouldn’t matter if I did.” She handed Louise her phone that showed a review saying that the gate code was changed every few days. Someone had stayed for a week, and was caught out with the wrong code.

They both thought quietly until Thelma grabbed an actual flashlight and a park map that had the address and several different phone numbers on it. She figured it was worth a try to see if maybe the code was the four digit address, or the second part of one of the several phone numbers, or maybe the first or last four digits of the zip code.

Thelma climbed out of the car. “Come on,” she told Louise. I need you to hold the flashlight while I try some of these number combinations. They walked over to the gate and as they started to sit down, Thelma noticed that one of the three locks wasn’t a combo but was actually keyed. She held it up for Louise to see and asked excitedly, “Do you think you can pick it?” Louise was known in high school for opening locked doors and cabinets. Once, a teacher locked himself out of his room and asked her to pick it open for him, which she did quite easily.

She looked at the lock and shook her head no. “Maybe if I had my lock pick set, but all I have are my Leatherman and my Swiss Army knife.”

Thelma asked, “Doesn’t the knife have a toothpick or something?” Louise explained that it takes two tools to open a keyed lock; a pick and a tension wrench. The toothpick was suitable for neither.

Louise looked at the three lock system. Although they were intertwined, if they could open one of the combination locks, the pin would come out enabling them to flip the metal overlap and swing the gate apart. Meanwhile, Thelma winced as she lowered herself down to the concrete that was wet from the night’s earlier rainfall. She began to try different number combinations from the park map.

“Oh look! A little fox!” Louise pointed her flashlight in the fox’s direction, careful not to shine it in his eyes.

“Great.” Thelma shuddered. “So there’s a mile’s worth of foxes, rattlesnakes, and leprosy carrying armadillos between me and my bed.”

“They’re not so bad. They’re really cute. Okay, maybe not the rattlesnakes, but look at how cute the fox is!”

Thelma didn’t look up from the lock, as she systematically worked her way through the map numbers. “We could just start trying each possible combination, one at a time,” Louise suggested. Thelma looked up at her and rolled her eyes.

“Do you have any idea how many permutations that is? Thousands! We’d be here all night.”

“We might be here all night anyway.”

“I hope not. My shorts are wet, I’ve got rocks sticking me in the ass, and I broke a nail. Although, I guess it could be worse. It could be raining.” Both women laughed as a sudden crack of thunder rumbled in the distance.

Louise heard a noise coming closer. It sounded like a car crunching on gravel. “Hey, maybe someone is coming. They might have the code.”

Thelma stopped twirling the numbers and glanced back down the road. No one was coming. She sighed, “We may just have to sleep in the car and wait until 8am when the rangers get here.”

“Let me give it a try,” Louise said as she reached towards the lock. She saw the manufacturer’s name and her face lit up.

“Mom, I’ll work on this. Check on YouTube for any videos on how to pick a Master 175 lock. There might be a default code or something.”

Thelma, ever impressed by her daughter, walked back to the car and gingerly placed her wet bottom on the dry seat. She opened her phone and typed in, “pick master 175 combo” and waited. There were thousands of results, but she knew from experience that only the first page would likely have videos pertaining to her search parameters. She clicked on the first link, and suddenly felt a stab of hope. She stood up and joined Louise on the concrete. “How’s it going?”

“Honestly? I’m counting down the hours until we’re arrested.”

Thelma smiled and said, “Honey, we’re really going to break some laws now.” She turned the phone towards Louise and pressed the play button.

Riders On The Storm (part 1)

The following is work of fiction. Resemblances to any person, real or imagined, alive or dead, is pure coincidence.

Thelma and her daughter, Louise, decided to take a couple of days off and hit the road. They made reservations at a park along the way, with plans to take lots of pictures and spend a little time in the cool outdoors.

Because they’d had a bit of a late start, they got to the park half an hour after the office closed. Fortunately, there was a park ranger outside the office, and he helped them do the after-hours check in, gave them a temporary parking pass, and told them to come back up the office early the next morning to pay all the entrance fees and get a regular parking pass.

After Louise pitched the tent with just a smidge of help from Thelma, it started to drizzle. They’d driven through some rain at the edge of town, and it looked like it was about to turn into a real storm. They decided to go get some dinner instead of being stuck in the tent all night. Before they left, they blew up their air mattresses, ran their electricity, and got their sleeping bags ready for the night.

During a delicious dinner of hot wings and fries, Louise expressed a wish to find a karaoke place that would let her in, since most of them are in bars, and Louise was only 19. Thelma, ever resourceful, whipped out her trusty internet enabled smart phone and searched for karaoke bars in the town. She was happy to find one that was actually a restaurant, which meant they would let minors in. However, due to a stupid corporate policy, minors were not allowed after 11pm, even if they were with their parent. Since karaoke started at 10pm, Thelma figured they could go for an hour and then head back to their tent and comfy mattresses and sleeping bags.

It was only 8pm, and they had an hour and 45 minutes to kill, so they went into the biggest Target they’d ever seen. Louise wanted a travel steamer because she and her mother were going to a concert the next night, and Louise knew her dress would be slightly wrinkled from being packed in a tiny bag for hours. Thelma and Louise found the steamer, then wandered around the store for a while. At 9pm, they checked out and went out to their car.

Louise was wearing a pair of jeans and a ratty t-shirt; without any makeup, she looked 12 years old. Thelma suggested she change shirts, brush her hair, and throw on some makeup. They went back in to the giant Target, as Louise needed the bathroom to wash her face and use the mirror for putting on her makeup. It took her longer than any human should require to do those things, and when she was done, it was 9:40pm.

The restaurant was just across the parking lot from the Target, so they walked across, sat down, and ordered iced tea, chips, and salsa. The karaoke guy was already set up and had his books out for easy song selection. Louise started flipping through the huge selection, and found several songs that she wanted to sing. The karaoke guy was really friendly, and told them that since there weren’t many people there, Louise would be able to sing plenty of times.

At around 10:15pm, the karaoke guy got the night started by being the first singer. Louise was second, and it looked like it was going to be just the two of them taking turns. Louise was deceptively quiet, and no one expected such a tiny girl to belt it the way she did. Once karaoke guy heard her sing, he was impressed, and wanted her to stay and sing some more, even though it was going to soon be 11pm, and time for Louise to turn into a figurative pumpkin. Karaoke guy did what any smart businessman would do in such a situation…he vouched for Louise and said he knew her and she was 21. Because Thelma and Louise were only drinking iced tea, no one bothered them as the night crept on.

However, disaster loomed when a bartender appeared at their table around 12:15am, and produced two giant margaritas. Thelma and Louise were surprised, as they had not ordered the drinks, but Thelma figured since it was perfectly legal for Louise to drink as long as she was within Thelma’s sight, she’d pay for the margaritas. Unfortunately, the bartender thought Louise looked suspiciously young and decided  to ask for her identification. Louise, ever the consummate actress/spy, coolly removed her id from her wallet and handed it over without a blink. The bartender glanced at it, said thanks, handed it back, and walked off.

Thelma and Louise thought they were in the clear, but a few minutes later, the bartender reappeared and informed them of the corporate policy of no minors after 11pm. She agreed to allow Thelma time to finish her margarita, but removed the drink from in front of Louise. Thelma commenced drinking her margarita veerrrrry slowly.  Louise sang a few more songs before the bartender caught on, and came back to the table to throw them out. Since it was already after 1am, and both Thelma and Louise needed to be up early the next day, they were ready to go, and left without a fuss.

They were only ten minutes away from the area where they were camping, and as they drove towards their waiting tent and mattresses, they saw an amazing lightning storm off in the distance.  A few minutes later, they pulled into the park driveway only to discover the gates were locked at 10pm. Thelma knew from experience that overnight campers were given a gate code in case they came back late, so she grabbed all the papers the park ranger had given them earlier that afternoon and started to flip through them. It was only a few seconds before she realized they didn’t have a gate code.

They were locked out and the storm was coming.

I Come Back To The Place You Are


This is the Columbia Bugaboo tent…the best tent ever made, in my humble opinion and relatively vast experience. It comfortably sleeps four (with inflatable mattresses, so more fit without them), and we’ve even squeezed a fifth person (albeit a small child) into the space at the front.

I bought this thing after much research, spurred by the fact that we were forced to throw away our previous tent, which was a piece of crap that my husband inherited from an ex-roommate. There’s a hilarious story involved, but I’ll just say that the tent flooded, in spite of Bubbles the Power Puff Girl sacrificing herself by absorbing as much water as she could. Since my daughter and I camped out pretty regularly at that time, I was determined to find a replacement that could be used all year ’round in South Texas, and one that could withstand a substantial rainfall. It also had to be tall enough that I could stand up straight, because I hate changing clothes being hunched over.

The Bugaboo has NEVER leaked, and it has been through a lot of crazy storms (looking outside, this weekend may be another one). The only breakdown we’ve ever had was when a pole snapped during takedown. Fortunately, a new pole was a whopping $12, and well worth it. Aubrey and I love this tent, and it has a lot of great memories attached to it. We had many fantastic camping trips with my best friend and her daughter, who was Aubrey’s best friend (they were born three days apart), and we had many more trips with just the two of us.

Thursday and Friday, we finally have a chance to take a quick trip, culminating in a David Wilcox concert on Friday night. It was pretty miraculous for Aub to get off two days in a row, so we jumped at the opportunity. This morning we went through all of our gear and took out the few things we won’t need, and made sure we had all the stuff that we do need. Aub threw the sleeping bags in the wash, and I cleaned the skewers we use for marshmallows. We found our lights, stove, propane, shower shoes, and other essential gear, made easier by having almost everything on one shelf.

Of course, now we cheat a little. All the state parks have wi-fi, so we bring our computers and tablets. We try to camp in places that have electrical outlets, although we have camped at one park that didn’t have wi-fi, electricity, or showers. Showers are important, especially when it is hot and sticky outside. We ended up washing each other’s hair in the bathroom sink and wiping down with wash cloths. It worked well enough that no one was forced to sleep outside the tent!

Aubrey is a master camper; she can pitch and secure the tent, get a fire going, set up the lights, and string a laundry line all within a half hour. She makes liberal use of her leatherman and her Swiss army knife. She loves being outdoors, as do I. When I was a kid, my parents used to rent a cabin on the Frio River for a week in the summer, and sometimes for a couple of weekend here and there, so tent camping was new to me. It’s much different and way better, I think. Being in a cabin is too much like being at home. When you’re in a tent, you KNOW you are not at home. I like the minimalism that comes with being in a tent.

Although my plan for our cross-country trip was to stay in places that I find on AirBnB, Aubrey wants to camp our way across. I’m considering it. I think it depends on how much crap she has to pack into the station wagon, because there may not be any room for a tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses, a tarp, and a sterilite tub of gear. We’ll see how much room it takes tomorrow, and that may make the decision for us.

I’m trying to fit a ton of mommy/daughter stuff into the next few months, because I’m not sure how much of that we’ll have from here on out. She’s growing up, and part of that means growing away for a bit, although I feel confident we’ll come back to this place of being best buds eventually.

But The Ending Always Comes Too Fast

August looms ever closer, and plans are being solidified. I’m still having trouble grasping the fact that in one month and 17 days, my daughter will no longer be a teenager, and I definitely can’t believe that she’s truly venturing out on her own, without any major financial support from us. Wild.

Only three months until we leave for our cross-country drive; Aubrey hopes to beat the job rush by getting to town a little early, before five colleges’ worth of students are vying for the few things available in the area. It would be especially nice if she could find employment in the tiny shopping center across the street from school, since that would decrease her need for a car, and by association, her need to drive on ice and snow for six months.

Last time I drove in Massachusetts was during the freak snow storm on Halloween weekend. We got snowed in to the dorm, which was an absolute blast, and I love the girls who accepted me as one of them, and not as a parent. There’s something magnificent about being in a circle of young women who are some of the country’s best and brightest; conversation is never boring, and they are all inquisitive yet steadfast in their beliefs.

The night we lost power and literally could not open a door to get out, Aubrey and I ventured into the common room where a music major gave an impromptu concert on the grand piano (there is a grand piano in every dorm at MHC). After that, about 20 of us pushed chairs, sofas, and pillows into a circle, and everyone brought snacks from their rooms and piled them in the center of the circle. Chocolate abounded, as did tea made by the tea queen of the dorm. I laughed when a guy came through to salt the stairs and sidewalk, and all the girls raced to the window to watch him. Such is the nature of an all girls’ school; guys are a rare sighting for those trapped on campus. These feminists were just as raunchy in their comments as construction workers towards women walking by. The funniest comment was, “Come in, come in! We have snacks!”, made to the soundproof glass.

This time round, I won’t be on campus with her as much, and I’ll miss it. Of course, there is Parents’ Weekend, which I’ll hopefully be able to attend, but after that, I won’t see her until Christmas. Amy (her dog) is going to freak out, and will likely lick holes in her legs, yet again. I wish we could move closer, sooner, rather than having to wait for two years. But it is difficult to buy a house when one is loaded down with debt, and difficult to rent a house when one has two dogs and a cat.

Since I can’t drive 2000 miles by myself (at least, not in a timely manner, and not safely), Ron is going to fly up to meet me, and then we’ll drive home together. It will give him the chance to fall in love with New England and understand what we mean when we talk about passing through five towns in twenty minutes. For me, after living in Texas for most of my life, where it takes eight hours to get the hell out of the state (unless you’re going to Mexico, and then it’s only an hour and a half to three hours depending on where you cross), living in a state that can be traversed in two hours or less is pretty phenomenal. Hell, it takes longer than that just to get to Houston from where we live, and we used to make that drive two or three times a year.

I am going to sorely miss all the things that Aubrey does around here…she makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches and perfect iced tea, drives to get my meds, reminds me to order my meds, drives me to the dentist, does half the grocery shopping (Ron does the other half), runs all the small errands, and most importantly, kills the giant water roaches and disposes of them properly…I don’t know who is going to do all that stuff when she’s gone.

On the plus side, I will eat fewer Doritos, much fewer Sonic tots, and even less McDonald’s fries. I’ll also have fewer bean and cheese tacos. Last time she was at school, I dropped 15 lbs during that first semester. I’m too lazy to get my own crappy food ;-P

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