up up and away

I have just returned home from dropping my beloved only child (W) off to begin his freshman year of college 1000+ miles from home. We have never been apart for more than 3 weeks. So that I don’t get too maudlin, this blog entry will be about W’s most recent short-coming: his total freaking ineptitude as trip photo-documentarian. I may have made up some of those words. Just bear with me.

We left home 5 days ago. The plan was to get up early, feed the cats, and jump in our already-loaded car. W, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, was preparing instant rice to mix with the delicate older cat’s canned food  while I showered. Taking the rice out of the microwave, W accidentally sloshed some of the boiling water on his leg. He had the presence of mind to immediately splash it with cold water, then to run to the bathroom and jump under a cold shower, and then to slather it with aloe gel, but then he took leave of his senses, ignored the pain, finished fixing the cats’ food and water, and tried to clean up the rice-y mess. When I got out of the shower he told me he had hurt himself. I peered nearsightedly at the burned area which was very pink but not yet blistered. Then I got him aspirin and an ice pack wrapped in a clean kitchen towel and sat him in a chair with the ice pack on the burn while I finished getting ready.

We got started a little later than planned, but finally we were setting off, W with the ice pack still on his leg. I handed him my camera and told him it was his job to document, through photos, this momentous journey. He gamely took his first shot: a horrifying photo of me in profile as we drove out of the neighborhood. Then, to be fair, he took an equally terrifying close-up of himself. A little while later he took a couple of blurry photos of hot air balloons over the mountains, but then he totally slacked off. Hundreds of miles down the road, after W missed chances to document both the Bong Recreational Area AND the Mars Cheese Castle, I had to fire him and relieve him of the camera. The next day when we located his campus – his new home! – and drove around it, W re-seized the camera and I learned that he is an even more inept photographer when happy and excited than when newly-injured and suffering. I have just downloaded those pictures and they seem to consist of seven blurry and/or severely-truncated shots of various signs bearing the name (or, more often, part of the name) of his college, four shots of some kind of utility boxes or solar equipment at one end of an unidentifiable sports field, and two shots of strangers’ vehicles which happened to drive between W and whatever he was trying to photograph at those moments. PUHthetic.

Yes, I do often give him a really hard time. One of W’s most charming qualities is his infinite ability to laugh and dish it back. This is one of the things I will miss.  He is an amazing young man who will master college life as he has mastered all his challenges so far: with grace, intelligence, and his own unique blend of conscience and humor.

This is it, buddy. Milk it for every drop.  I love you.