Emptying the Nest

So, last Friday I flew to California to help my daughter get settled into her graduate dorm. The day after that, my son flew to England to start his first year at university. Just your typical Foreign Service family I guess. When the kids fledge, flying distance is no object!

Emptying the nest is actually a lot more work than we thought it would be. My son needed a UK student visa (paperwork!), a plane ticket, a lot (like, a LOT) of money, and help in shopping and fitting all his worldly goods into two suitcases. My husband took charge of most of this, because I was visiting family in Nashville. I was OK with that.

Bryant is going to be attending Kingston University and living in a studio apartment with his girlfriend in London. Yes, we had to think about that, but not for long. Do you remember the guys’ dorms at college? We quickly agreed that he would get a lot more work done living with a female who is a better student than he is. But no matter what his grades turn out to be, there is going to be some growing up going on in the next year, that is for sure. What a great adventure for a Foreign Service kid

Rachel is entering a doctoral program in history at Stanford University. Yep, that Stanford, and yep, we are darn proud of her. She’s smart, but she also works her tail off and is super organized about well, everything, pretty much. So, she actually gets paid to spend the next few years on this insanely luxurious campus!

The courtyard of the history department. Because, you know, history.
The courtyard of the history department. Because, you know, history.
Random Rodin sculpture lying around the campus.

Foreign Service angle here: Rachel can’t leave her stuff at her parents’ house because we have no house. This year, we don’t even have any stuff! So, her stuff–all her stuff–is converging right here in this little graduate student apartment. Consequently, this feels like a “real” move, with you know, dishes, appliances, books, and boxes and boxes of clothes. She’s not very good at visual-spatial tasks like putting together Ikea furniture, so she brought me along for technical support πŸ™‚

I rented a car, and this last few days has been occupied with trips to Ikea, Target, and all those other places adults have to go to as soon as they move into a new place. Rinse, repeat.Β It’s been a lot of work, but the apartment is turning out really cute. Some TCKs may prefer to live their life out of suitcases, but the experience of growing up mobile can go either way. My daughter is pretty clear that she is “so over moving” and wants her little apartment to look like a home. Oh boy, do I get that.

A real chair.
A real reading chair.
Craft project: matting a collection of prints in poster frames with toile wrapping paper.
Budget craft project: matting a collection of prints in poster frames with toile wrapping paper.
Organization is taking place here.
Great things will be written at this desk.
They gave her a table and chairs! And a pretty nice kitchen she shares with just one roommate.
They gave her a table and chairs! And a pretty nice kitchen she shares with just one roommate. It’s very civilized for a dorm.
I gave Rachel this toolkit for her freshman year, and topped it off with an electric screwdriver for grad school. She says best idea ever :)
I gave Rachel this toolkit for her freshman year, and topped it off with an electric screwdriver for grad school. She says best idea ever πŸ™‚

Ironically, her dorm “apartment”Β is a lot nicer than our Foreign Service places are in some ways. Mostly, I am impressed by the furniture. It’s modern, solid wood (no cheap finishes or builder brass hardware) and is actually useful! You know, a big, sturdy desk with rolling drawers underneath it, and a printer stand. A bed that doesn’t shake every time you sit on it. A foam innerspring mattress (not rock-hard) with a vinyl cover–because more than one person might use it. A bookshelf with slots in the back for power cords. Very sensible!

It’s amazing what you can get for the money when not hog-tied by government purchasing regulations. But I digress.

There has been some time for fun. I had never been to California before–or anywhere out west, really–and I like it! Beautiful blue skies, friendly people, good food…OK, the traffic is pretty awful, but that’s nothing new to a NoVA resident. I could live out here, I think, if called upon to do so.

Yesterday, we drove to Berkeley to pick up some more of her stuff (!), toured around there, then drove up into the hills to see some redwoods. I don’t know why, but that’s been on my bucket list for some time. Probably a result of a National Geographic article I read as a kid.

This tree makes me happy.
These trees makes me happy.
We did not see any mountain lions, but we were glad to be prepared, just in case. Yikes.
We did not see any mountain lions, but we were glad to be prepared, just in case. Yikes.

And finally, today, we went to the beach. It was awesome. And less than an hour from campus.

Pigeon Point lighthouse.
Pigeon Point lighthouse.
Half Moon Bay beach.
Half Moon Bay beach.
Smiling because we just saw WHALES!
Smiling because we just saw WHALES!

When Rachel first told me she had settled on Stanford, I was dubious. I didn’t see the point of going all the way across the country to get the same degree she could have gotten in a more convenient location. But now, I get it.

I get why people live in this crazy place, with droughts, fires, earthquakes, and Lord knows what else. It’s just beautiful, and it makes me happy in the same way Italy always does. I will be back!

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3 comments

  1. I hope to go back, also. Can’t remember if I told you this, but my brother lives between SF & LA. He got his PhD in chemistry from Stanford. He’s never been back, except for a visit. I get it. It does make you happy to be in that lush “nature.” Enjoy your stay there, Kelly, and I’m so glad that Rachel can appreciate what our country has to offer in the way of natural riches and art history. And we have the Art Institute of Chicago, which just got named best museum of the world by Trip Advisor.

    Like

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