Monday, August 31, 2009

My Brilliant Career

A career is a funny thing. I’m not talking funny ha-ha. I’m talking funny-strange. As in, “That’s strange, where’d my career go? It was here a minute ago.” One day I was writing for TV, and the next, I wasn’t. I turned away briefly, to have my uterus removed, or maybe it was my gall bladder, I forget, and my career pulled an Elvis and left the building.  “Are you coming back?” I asked my career. It had no comment. It just skidded out the parking lot, packed up and moved out of town, address unknown. Naturally, my spirits plunged, but I kept going. I vowed to track down my career, no matter what. So I searched and I googled, I twittered and I facebooked, but all I found were some early credits I thought I’d buried for good.

Monday, August 3, 2009


The college boy checks his suitcases, and we stand there and watch them disappear. We bow our heads and say a silent prayer:  Please, God. Let both bags arrive at the same time, at the same destination, and not somewhere else, like Mars. His backpack stays on his shoulders, along with some hefty dreams, the kind that weigh more than his luggage. I happen to know this for a fact. Before we leave for the airport, we weigh everything on a special travel scale. The baggage comes in at 85 pounds; the dreams, a ton-and-a-half.

We walk up an escalator and back down again. We aren’t looking for the food court, but find it, anyway. Pizza and chicken wings. Panda Express. Should we have a nosh? We’re not hungry, but we can always eat. No, it’s decided, let’s keep going. We’re looking for a sign, and there it is, the thing I’m dreading most of all: an arrow that points to the departure gate.

All the planning and nagging and packing, and just like that, here it is. It’s time to say “farvel” to the family. Time to hop a plane or two. Catch a ride to Copenhagen. “Study” abroad. Soak up culture. Convert money. Party in a whole new language for five long months. Eat Danish food. Drink Danish beer. Meet Danes, lots of them, specifically, females. With any luck, he’ll find a few who don’t tower over him by more than a foot. Such are the goals of a young man traveling to a foreign land, just because he can, and why shouldn’t he?

Up to the last minute, I do so well. I’m fine. I’m more than fine. I’m great! “Look at my boy. Off he goes. Isn’t he something?” But then, just like that, I fall apart. I lose control. I’m weeping on his T-shirt. Clutching him for dear life. “Don’t cry,” he says. But I keep going. I can’t help myself. My husband looks away. He refuses to join this sob fest of mine. I’m on my own here. My youngest puts his arm around me. He won’t go there, either.

Now the college boy waves goodbye. He turns and walks away and soon we can’t see him anymore. I’m still crying, of course; saying ridiculous things. “It’s so far. He’s going so far.” But then, just like that, I stop. A few deep breaths and I’m done. We’re out the door… in the parking lot… driving away. A long schlep over the hill and we’re home again, sipping Corona Lights, munching falafels we picked up on the way. The next day, the phone rings. “Hi, Mom. I’m here,” says a voice many time zones away. “What about the luggage?” I ask, as if that’s more important. “It’s here, too,” he says. But I know what he’s thinking. “Now what?”