My little boy is graduating tomorrow. Well, he is not little anymore. He is twenty-six and poised to take on the world. He will be participating in the hooding ceremony at West Virginia University and will be coming home a doctor. Not a medical doctor per se, although he could probably get away with that if he wanted to. No, my son, the Dr., will be graduating with a PHD in Economics. He has worked his butt off these past eight years. And I’m wondering how time was stolen from me. Just yesterday, he was just a little guy, taking balloons down at my brother’s wedding reception, and selling them to the guests. It was hard to resist the curly red headed ring bearer, clad in a tuxedo and using his ornery nature to score some money from the wedding guests.
Fast forward many years, and I am trying to spend as much time with the former ring bearer/scam artist before he flies the coop.
And I am trying to figure out how this all started. We had to put him on a leash when we went to walk on the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland when he was three years old. He just couldn’t stand still. He was always running head-on to a new adventure. And it is still happening. My mother-in-law said it was her fault. She didn’t let the kids climb all the way to the top of the sliding board. I’m thinking it was my fault. We lived on thirteen acres and always went on “adventures.” Maybe it was something in the water. All I know, is that my two children have a wanderlust that cannot be contained. And now my son is moving to Georgia this summer.
I know what you are thinking. Georgia is not THAT far from West Virginia. Oh, but it is. Right now my twenty-six year old son is living thirty minutes from me. I can hop in the car and be there in no time. Georgia is just too far away. I remember when we drove to Disney World and went through Georgia. It wasn’t too far. Too bad my son isn’t going to that Georgia.
No, my son accepted a teaching position in Tbilisi, Georgia…..as in the country Georgia. Uh, yeah. Way over there.
So, I am happy for him, and at the same time have a knot in my stomach. I really should be used to his travels, his adventures, his near death experiences that I only hear about a year or two after they happen. I really should be one big walking ulcer. I have gray hair because of my kids. Oh, sure, I am in my mid fifties. It is time to get gray hair, right? Wrong. Women only get gray when their children give them gray hair. And mine is getting grayer by the day.
Adam first gave me gray hair when he went to Strasbourg, France one summer. He was flying over with students and a professor from WVU to study for a month. So, why did he buy airplane tickets on his own and fly over a day early and not with his class? Just because. Why in the world would he travel by himself? He also rented a bicycle for the whole month. So, naturally, I was worried sick that he was going to get hit by a car.
That fall, he flew to Morocco to study at Al Akhawayn University for six months. Luckily, WVU asked him to write a blog while he was there, so I knew everything he did. Well, except for the parts he left out so his mom wouldn’t worry. His blog was so wonderful. And scary. Like his plane ride.
While he was in Morocco, he traveled to Casablanca, got violently ill on the train ride back to Ifrane. And there was nothing I could do about it. I am sure it was food poisoning, as he often ate food that had been hanging around a bit.
He had been carrying it around in his back pack for while before cooking. I think he got sick after this picture also. Chicken on a stick.
Oh, just attending the University and hanging around there wasn’t enough for Adam. No, Adam had to go mountain climbing. But, wait. How could he do that? He was in Morocco, land of camels and sand, right? Well, yes, partially. Morocco is also home to some high mountains. So, naturally, Adam decided to climb the second highest mountain in Morocco. Of course.
I remember when he called me to tell me he was flying to Italy with his new friend, Neri. Another flight. Another worry. Who the hell is Neri? I don’t know him. Of course I don’t know him. He’s from Turino, Italy. But, Adam had a blast and still sees his international college friend when he takes his different escapades each year.
Well, I guess I should just run through his trip to Switzerland and six countries the summer after he got back from Morocco. He had great pictures from that trip. I had more gray hair coming in. He climbed up the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn. Well, a lot of the way up.
Adam’s adventures were not over. We sent him to Guanajuato, Mexico during his spring break to collect Alex, who was studying there. She was very sick and we were afraid that he would need to fly her to Houston to a hospital there. My husband and I didn’t have passports at the time (stupid parents), so we sent him. Adam was thrilled to go to Mexico. He took her to a hospital there, and the next thing you know, they rented horses for a six hour ride to a volcano. Um, okay.
I was worried sick about her. She just needed her brother.
Adam was also able to go visit Alex when she was living in Kobe, Japan, teaching for the Jet program. When she arrived there, she came down with swine flu. Of course she did. She was fine when Adam went to visit her. They traveled around Japan and had a great time.
With his sister in Nara, Japan
After Japan, his sister decided to teach English in Louhans, France, for a year. So, after Christmas 2010, they flew back on different flights. It was bad enough getting Alex home for Christmas. There was a huge snowstorm in Europe and she had to sleep in the Paris airport for two nights. On their flights back, Adam flew to Germany and Alex flew to Geneva, Switzerland. Watching flight trackers for two planes was a lot of fun. Adam missed a connecting flight because of the weather. Alex hung out in Geneva, meeting people and making me nervous. When Adam finally arrived, they toured France for awhile. Adam then headed to Italy to visit Neri and of course, ski on a high Italian mountain. More gray hairs.
When I first started to write this post, Adam was in the Czech Republic with forty WVU students and his professor. He flew earlier to Berlin, Germany for a job interview before he headed to Tbilisi, Georgia. He was offered a job at Montana State University, which alas, he turned down. I can understand why. But, I was ready to head west. Now I will have to go to Tbilisi, where he says the food is awesome. We shall see.
So, Georgia it is. I won’t be able to drive thirty minutes to see him come summer. That will make me sad. But, I just found out that his girlfriend will be attending grad school in Stuttgart, Germany this fall. That means monthly flights to see each other.
My hair will be totally gray by then.
I’ve only touched on a few of the adventures that my oldest child has experienced in his short lifetime. And it is already more than some people experience in an entire lifetime. I’ve been so happy to be witness to this remarkable person. Oh, sure, I am his mom and have to say these things. But, nah, not really. But, I admire his tenacity, his convictions to live life to its fullest. He has worked hard these past eight years. I hope he has time to play.
Adam will be traveling on the plane to Georgia with his cat, Atticus. I will be a nervous mother, that’s for sure. But, it is time to realize that he is a big boy now.
And I am okay with that.
So, congratulations, Adam. You went from sword fighting with light bulbs and smashing jelly beans into the carpet so no one would buy the house we put on the market, to being a wonderful human being. I am so proud of your accomplishments and proud that I am your mother.
May your travels bring you a thirst for all that is new, and may you live a long and healthy life, so you can ski off that cliff when you are 99 like you mention.
And you know you always have a home to rest your weary head when you come flying back to the coop.
On one of his journeys.