Spuds has been gone less than a month but I am already amassing a list of firsts. The first Shabbat without the kids. The first time I couldn't figure out how to operate the TV remote And now, the first Rosh Hashanah without my boys. The adjustment to what's referred to as Part Two will come, I know. It just hasn't happened yet. I mope around and Himself chastises me for watching too much TV and not reading a single thing. I binge on Downton Abbey and the sappy score nearly puts him over the edge. I do read magazines while I eat my breakfast and if Himself didn't sleep so late he would witness this. I explain that I am depressed and he is genuinely surprised. “Do you miss,” he challenges me, “the 24/7 throbbing sub-woofer?” “I wouldn't mind it,” I say only to myself, not to provoke him when there are no kids around to give us a reason not to fight.
This first week of the Jewish year is my last week at an office I've owned and worked out for nearly two decades. Thousands of pages of my father's neatly printed notes are transcribed and relegated to the recycling bin. Huge film racks are ripped off the walls and broken down for scrap. Boxes are stacked with tiny snippets for film, lenses for projectors we're not sure we have anymore, rolls of powder blue leader labels and stuff that may be important but we don't know what it is. The new owner has dismantled what was left of our air conditioning. It seems that wherever we are and whatever we need it's always at the other office.
On paper, the first of the empty nest era, referred to as Part Two sounds pretty good. I return from an excellent couple days in New York with Spuds and old friends and a mind blowing trip to London. I only have to cook for one fussy eater who can be placated with leftovers more readily than his spawn. TaskRabbit is a new discovery and for $15. a nice young man arrives promptly to diagnose my pathetic error in attempting to operate the television and does not shame me as others have. The new office, when I'm done with it, will be homey and elevated from my dad's utilitarian workplace ethos. And there is a landlady to call when anything breaks.
I have a new (to me) car, a bright blue C30 Volvo. I fell in love with this jaunty little model, which resembles the froggy Volvos of the '70s, the first time I saw it. I haven't had a car I loved since before the kids were born. I've had two Volvo wagons. Nice, powerful, well designed cars but militantly not sexy. I call my new baby Blueie. A sucker, I am charmed by contraptions enhanced with human qualities. Blueie has Bluetooth and says his own name (in my voice) every time I start him. ( I also have personal relationship with our Neato Vacuum who refers to himself as “I”and “me.” I call him Robo.) The first time we take Blueie for a spin Himself asked me why I kept patting the steering wheel. I am not really aware of doing this but I am insanely over the moon for this car. So over the moon, that Rover, the best but also the shedding-ist dog ever born, is banned from Blueie. I've kept the wagon, with it's headliner of white fur, broken door handle, torn seats and old car aroma to transport Rover to the office. Blueie is my weekend car and the old wagon, Rover's limo. Note: Illustration is a representation of Blueie. Too hot to go outside and take real photo.
Joe College calls. He is down. Dorm living was preferable to living off campus for his first two years. Or at least, tolerable. Now, most of his friends are living off campus and he is among the older students still in the dorm. The younger students are needy. It gets on his nerves. He says he doesn't have a quiet moment to himself. I'm sorry the boy is frustrated but it is good to feel mom-ish. I was reluctantly approved for off campus status at Johnston with a cockamamie story about the mail room screwing up film shipments from my dad which I needed to screen for my studies. This is why no one recognizes me or even my name at reunions. Looking back, I should have stayed in the dorm but I completely understand Joe College feeling disgusted. I explain that chances are that his scholarship can't be converted to subsidize off-campus housing but advise him to verify this. I tell him that although he is sick of hearing about my office problems it is the last week in the old office and it is so hot and there have been huge complications so I don't feel up to giving him good advice. He asks then about the move and says he's sorry for bothering me. “You're not BOTHERING ME! I've just had a hard week,” I start to wail. “Plus I've been really sad. And lonely! I know! Instead of moving off campus, just come home after your Thursday morning class and stay until Sunday night every week. You'd have peace and quiet and we can hang together!” I suspect any further discussion about moving off campus has been nipped in the bud.