Metamorphosis

I watch, sitting on the front porch, with my neighbor, as my baby plays. Naive, foolish and happily clueless about the number of times I would let go of my precious baby the rest of my life – each time for a bit longer, and a bit farther away.

He’s 5. And is begging to go around the block, by himself, on his bike. I let him, my heart in my mouth until I see a mile-wide smile plastered on his beautiful face back around the corner.

He is 6. I drop him off at school, walking with him all the way to his class. Is that a lump in my throat as I walk back and, is it raining?

He is in 2nd grade. I drop him off at school, and watch as he walks in all by himself, barely looking back.

He is 8, and is going to ride the school bus. Our days of profound, silly, funny, and sometimes-confessional car talks are coming to an end. I become the crazy mom who follows the school bus on the first day of school, every year.

He’s in 7th grade and is off to Washington, DC for a leadership conference. We pack his suitcase together, planning every outfit. The days he’s gone are a hazy memory. He comes back, having had the best time, and with the biggest smile ever. I’m proud. And happy it’s over. For now.

He is 17, and is off to college—only a couple of hours away. The couch is my best friend. Does it ever get easier?

His sophomore summer, he drives from Florida to Indiana on a summer road trip. My gift to him. He comes back safe, happy and with a tattoo. (I’m curiously proud of what he chose: an image that combines his Japanese best friend’s family icon and the lion from India’s national emblem). Our relationship seems to have turned a corner. No more angry teen-frustrated mom conversations.

He is 21, and is off for a summer internship. In Baltimore. Two weeks after the riots. The days we spend before he leaves are a crazy mix of laughter, food, unshed tears, my moods, panic, and conversations that run deep. My unraveling is not pretty, and upsets him terribly.

The wings are stronger and the flights longer. But I sense the roots are getting deeper too.

To my sunshine, the one who always makes me feel better no matter what’s wrong.

I love you.

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Hope, Change and Jalebis

It’s been 2 days since the nail-biting finish to months of campaign watching, wringing of hands over reports of voter suppression, elation/relief at the gaffes by Romney and team that slowly revealed the truth about them, anger over republican ideas on “legitimate rape”…and I can’t stop smiling and feeling relieved it’s over, and it’s gone the way of the people.

The last time, in 2008, which was also the first time I voted as a citizen of this great experiment called America, we had spent watching the election night coverage at my friend’s house. A whole bunch of us were there, excited for the historical night. We had some doubts, but were mostly optimistic. This time, though I was alone at home, since Raj was traveling and I was dreading the prospect of watching it alone – the stress was killing me!

So, the new me called some friends over. To make jalebis! I say the new me because I’m discovering myself all over again since we moved from the corn fields and cold winters of Muncie, Indiana to beachy, marshy Florida. And kind of surprised at what I’m finding in me! I had left behind some longstanding friendships__ some true, some dysfunctional but all comfortable__and started anew, not knowing a single soul in Florida. Just like 22 years ago when I got married, moved to the US, then quit my job, got pregnant and moved to Muncie. The difference was, we were just starting our lives together then__raising 2 children, a job, a career and building our future took care of any anxiety about making friends.

But last year was different. Our kids were both in college. It was going to be a clean slate for me again__ but this time, I had no day to day responsibility of kids or a job to keep me occupied. I had to find things to do to make myself from going crazy.  But, I’ve realized over the past year, that people are people, and most are good, normal people just like us. Once I got over the mental block of extending my arm in friendship first, it got easier and easier.

I am now happy to report a small group of friends that I can call for almost anything__be it an illness,  to go to a music concert or  desi movies with,  to go shopping, or to come make jalebis with me on a week night and watch Mr. O getting reelected! And these girls have full time paying jobs, and kids living at home!

Well, they came, and we made jalebis and jangiris! I had the batter ready, one filled the ziploc bags to pipe the batter into hot oil, we all took turns making crazy swirls in the hot oil, and one dipped them in the sugar syrup. My husband kept calling every few seconds announcing the latest electoral vote count. It was better than a bar! Noisy, smoky and full of laughs. We finished just about the minute when Ohio was called for Obama and Karl Rove started unraveling on air. We all sat around the tv, and took a couple of pictures with my cellphone to mark the moment. And I instinctively picked up the phone and dialed my Muncie friend’s number – at whose home we had watched the last election. Then noticed that she had posted on my facebook wall almost at the same time!

There is change in me – we are, after all, organic, and without change, we might as well lay down and die. There is new confidence about my ability to start over and a renewed faith in people. There is hope that I will build friendships that will last a long time. Like the ones I have going on, long distance. Best of all, there is at least four more years of (what I am predicting to be) a historical presidency!

O eating a jalebi! Coincidence? Don’t think so!

Here’s a video of a professional chef making jangiris that we found on Youtube. While ours aren’t this perfect, (it is only our first time), they are GOOD! We celebrated Obama’s reelection with fresh hot jalebis/jangiris!

My Article In a Contest

Hello followers,

I had sent a couple of my articles some time ago to some contests, and one of them is now published in the following websitse:

www.midlifecollage.com

The article is about kids leaving home and is called “The Birds Have Flown the Coop”.

Please check it out, and vote for me if you like it. The contest ends this Sunday (Sept 9, 2012) and you do have to get a login id to be able to vote. But no worries, they don’t spam or share your email with anyone.

To login/get a login scroll all the way to the bottom where you will see this:

Leave your star rating and/or comment on this vignette.

You must be logged in. No login? Registration is easy. You only need to supply your name, a user name and email address. Register Now.

Click on Register Now to get a login id. Use your login id to login and vote.

Thank you all for reading!

sri

On birds flying the coop

Today, as they say, is the first day of the rest of my life as an empty nester.  Just dropped off my daughter at the airport for her flight back to college in Michigan.  My son, the younger one, left home last week to college as a freshman at the University of Florida.

And my husband and I are left with an empty nest.  The emptiness is overwhelming – I see signs of my little birds all over the house.  A pitcher of mango juice my son made and finished only half.  A half-empty (or is it half-full?) bottle of lemonade my daughter left in the refrigerator.  Their clothes.

I want them to know we love them  more than anything in this world.  Hopefully, we have given them strong roots, and powerful wings to fly where life takes them – preferably not too far from us.  They’re both wonderful, kind, funny and intelligent and my wish and prayer is for them to live up to their potential.

I’ll admit it – I’m on the verge of a meltdown, and fighting it.  I know this is normal, and a natural progression of life.  I tell myself how much worse it would be if they didn’t go to college and stayed home.

So I am making myself a list of things I have always wanted to do to help ease into my new life as an emptynester.

I went to the YMCA and got information on some classes.  It’s about time I learned to swim.

Maybe kickboxing? Always wondered about Pilates.  Have tried Zumba – with my two left feet, should be quite entertaining.

Sign up for a French language course at the University of North Florida – have always wanted to learn French.  Will come in handy when we go to Paris.

Start my bookclub in September, even if it has only 2 members since we only recently moved to Florida, and am still to make a lot of connections.

Start watching the TV series ‘Lost’ which I have in my netflix queue.  With 120 episodes it should keep me busy, right?

Work on my family cookbook.

Paint.

Make a new blog documenting the construction of our house with pictures.

And be available to my little birds when they need me.

Fly safe, little birds.  But know that your nest is always here, warm and safe anytime you need to rest your wings.