Monday, September 1, 2014

Dear College Freshman Child

Yaaaaaasssss... perfect!

Dear Son:

You've been away at college for five nights now. We miss you but are thrilled for this new chapter in your life. I mean, we all knew you were ready for this step, busting at the seams of this parent/child role was something we all felt. We miss you 'round the clock and your siblings left back home really feel the loss of your presence, especially on family outings. They asked me to write you a letter so that you would know just how much life sucking fun you've been missing.

No need for us to go into the Costco trip you missed Friday morning when your dad came home with gas can sized containers of corn oil that we have piled up against the sink, I mean -- those are just incidental happenings.

No, your brothers want you to know about the #deeplife that is going on this Labor Day weekend. Like today.

Today was the day your dad decided to relive moments of his boyhood. Your brothers explained it to me this way, "You have your writing, mom, dad has his days of what once was." And so this is how it came to be that your dad piled us into the family van this morning and set up the GPS, whose directions he ignored most of the drive up (Ms. GPS no longer even pretends to be patient) and we drove the two hours your dad needed to, to get what was once for him the childhood marking of a summer's end.

We went to small town Wisconsin where today was "Cornival Day," so named because three! free ears of corn are promised to everyone in attendance at the Cornival. You know what's weird, Alec? Your dad never mentioned Cornival Day to me. Ev-er. Anyhow, in theory, since there were four of us in attendance (again, we miss you sorely) we could have brought our Trader Joe's canvas bags and had them filled with 12 ears of grilled corn, but since only your dad was interested in end-of-summer symbolic feeding, we just waited in line (like some kind of outer space aliens were feeding us from a truck, but that's just my opinion) for the three ears of the free corn, for him.

Your brother, Xavier, wants you to know that he volleyed back and forth about whether or not to purchase "chips" at a food stand because "chips" for sale on a sign with "chips" written in black marker "quotes" makes for an unsettling description, add to the fact that they came in "all kinds." He paid the 50 cents for the "chips" but ate them "tentatively."

We missed you today. Your father had a grand time reliving Cornival Days gone by, but the rest of us, the three of us, felt out of our realm. I say out of our realm, Auggie describes it as "unbearable air smelling of Spam." 

I was okay with your dad searching out his corn roast memories. Even the full lines at the drive-through liquor stores that we passed on the way into town didn't worry me. Today was an important family excursion for your dad and I think he needed to do this as a way of working through his feelings on you being up and flown. As your brothers said, I have my writing to work through life transitions. I can talk to you like an adult now, Alec, so I'm going to tell you, your dad was working through some shit.

Your brothers were rough on your dad, I'll admit. I knew he was going through some intense thoughtful moments, and maybe your brothers went too far in calling today a "crushed memories and broken corn cob dreams" family outing.

It wasn't that bad. I mean, yes... unfamiliar and something we're not used to. For example, the turkey  sandwiches we purchased were turkey porridge (Auggie called it brain soup for zombies) on store brand hamburger buns BUT all that can be tolerated by simply tossing the wet sandwich away and considering the $3.00 purchase price a donation toward the free cornfestivus corn. 

And there were some unexpected moments of delight -- like Magic Mark who performed magic tricks, silently -- though he wasn't in a mime outfit, while following along and interactively learning with the audience to the DVD Magic For You! that he had playing on a two foot thick TV on a TV tray to his right.

It's all perspective, I explained to your brothers.

Where else could we see Cornival clientele arguing with game booth workers over the number of balloons they popped with a dart, three chances for a dollar, and the size prize they felt they should have received rather than the one they did receive. Life can be a book, or a Twilight Zone episode, that you step into.

You would have enjoyed today's outing, Dear Son. If you talk to your brothers, it was close to but not as awful as they describe it. The "chips" were tolerable. With your dad paying no mind to the chattering of the GPS, we found our way home. Your family survived this Labor Day without you. More than anything, we missed you.

We made your dad happy today, though there was a moment that we caught him wistful -- almost as if he expected someone to recognize him from 40 years ago. But we returned home, no worse for wear.

Although Auggie says that today made him hate corn forever.
* * *


  1. Beautifully done, this juxtaposing of hilarity with genuine emotion. And CORN as the vehicle for the whole story? Priceless.

  2. What is better than real life, Jocelyn, right? THANK YOU for your kind, kind words.

  3. ha. you know...he misses these times as well...and he may not realize it yet....and he may not admit it...but i bet he feels it the first time he comes never know when you will need that much corn oil as guys are just thinking ahead you know...smiles.

    1. Brian, the last I remember, he was ten years old. Not kidding (thanks for reading, friend)

  4. I did not think your husband was going to make you go to the corn festival. I THOUGHT IT WAS A JOKE! With three free ears of corn for all.

  5. Aw. I love this. All of this. Corn rules. Don't tell Auggie I said that.

  6. Snarky but sweet at the same time. Never heard of Cornival...maybe for good reason? Very funny!

  7. Grande Mocha -- neither did the kids!
    Alison -- I love corn, too, just not the field kind meant for cows.
    TKW -- My husband is going through some major heart pangs and only activities from days gone by seem to make sense to him.

  8. Appreciate how you wove the horror of Cornival with the sweetness of your husband's processing.

  9. So sweet to help your husband transition like this! I was dying at "corn." That sounds a bit sketchy.

  10. Awwwww... I imagine that you are all in your own ways working through some sh** right now. I can't imagine and I'm sure you all miss your boy so very much. I really loved this though... and also that your hubby knew of a festival where your attendance guarantees three free ears of corn. I don't know of a cornival fest in NY/NJ anywhere and it's something I would love to attend. Love that your boy ate questionable "chips" despite the ominous description.

    PS: That anthology you contributed to? Your story really broke my heart. It was a story I read a few times over... I just... it melted me. XOXO

    1. Charlotte: THANK YOU, friend. xo
      Anna: Labor Day. This was my Labor Day. xo
      Dianne: He misses the boy, you know, it's hard for someone without a blog to process... I don't know how the rest of the world does it.

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  12. "Crushed memories and broken corn cob dreams" made me snort sparkling water out of my nose. But it was worth it.

    Your kids make me laugh so hard.

  13. Your boys have such a funny perspective on things. They are clearly influenced by their mother. Happy cornival day and best of luck with the first one out of the nest.

  14. That was wonderful. Thank you. And now, I'm off to eat some corn "chips."

  15. Alex! Through my increasingly nervous laughter, I started to feel pangs of terror. I knew I was going to have to deal with my own feelings next year when the son flies, but it had not occurred to me what the husband may have in store in terms of his own acting out...oh no...oh dear...

  16. Andrea: YUP. YEEEUP. Totally just thought husband would not be affected by this major shift.
    Andrea Mowery: Your post today was like a solved whodunit for me. xo
    Diary: Cornival Festivus Everything Day!!! xo
    Naptime: My kids are the most wonderful people on the planet. I adore them. xo Thanks for lovin' on them with me. xo

  17. I love roaster corn, that looks so good! Will you please take me next year? :)



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