It's five o'clock in the morning the day after. The boy/man is GONE. It's 2 p.m there. He's in the middle of his first day in Amsterdam.
The night before was a blur of last minute preparations and visits. Our old friend Joe, who grew up around the corner, came over to say farewell to the boy/man he's watched grow up. Joe's traveled all over the world and had many words of travel wisdom to impart. Not just old fart wisdom - practical stuff we hadn't thought of. Owen's friend, James (a world traveler in his own right), kept nodding his head, with every suggestion.
Eva came too. It made me glad she wanted to be there for Owen. We all sat around the kitchen table telling travel stories and giving travel cautions. You know, "Go see this" and "Watch out for that." Owen could take just so much of this and finally said, "Can we STOP talking about traveling and go EAT?" We all trooped down to the Smokehouse:
It's the local (not-franchise) burger joint. Not fancy. Not particularly fast. But, whoah baby, a quintessential American experience. Great burgers, fries, and shakes. It's been at the corner of Woolsey and Telegraph since the year I was born. The olden days. It's often the first place I take foreign (mostly Japanese) visitors. I thought it was the perfect place for Owen to choose for his last dinner.
I kept myself busy the rest of the evening by finishing the Bucket o' Peace.
I (obviously) couldn't sleep. I was up almost the whole night remembering things I needed to tell him and doing things to help him pack. Plus, there was a parade of boys/men who came by, late into the evening. Every time I poked my head in the door of his room, a different young man looked up and said hello.
We left for the airport at just about this time yesterday morning. It was dark. The minute Owen went out to load his suitcase into the car, Zelda (his dog) pressed her nose to the front window.
All you can see is her eyes, glowing (from the flash), as her boy drives away.
We got to the airport early enough to deal with the line.
And even had time for breakfast.
But then it was time to say goodbye.. Then the tears flowed (they're flowing now). I had to pull out the hanky and everyone laughed. But I think there was a great big lump in everybody's throat.
Then we watched him walk away. The boy/man off on his big adventure.
And we went off to start another day. A normal day. It's weird that life must go on. And it's weird that everything seems so normal. There's tons, TONS to do at work and everyone wants it yesterday. The animals all have to be fed at home. There's still the same chores to do. Same pictures on the wall, same neighbors walking by the house, same old same old. But the house is very quiet. And somebody's off doing who knows what somewhere. I've been there. It's just strange being on this end of it.
Last night Ron & I celebrated the empty nest at a different restaurant. Someplace across town and not so familiar. After all, we're kind-of off on an adventure of our own, aren't we?