The Nest Is Empty

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. J was working feverishly to complete as much as she could of her college applications, studying Italian, and, of course, packing. All that packing stressed everybody out. The kitties, concerned that they’d be left behind, kept careful watch over the entire process.

And then it was time to head out. J was leaving from Boston, which meant a long drive super-early to allow plenty of just-in-case time. She was flying on Lufthansa through Frankfort and then to Verona, and when we got to the check-in desk, they hadn’t opened for all of their red-eyes yet. Which meant that we stood there in line looking at each other for about an hour, surrounded by a bunch of other early birds and her massive luggage (two extra-big suitcases checked plus her backpack carry-on for her 9-10 month stay). That wait was pretty excruciating. We were all tense and emotional, and we had already said everything that needed to be said. So I, for one, spent the whole time biting back “You definitely have your passport, right?” and “Please send us an update as soon as you meet your family,” because I was just going to drive her crazy. Finally, finally, it was time to check in.

And then it was a fairly quick goodbye at the security line. Cute W and I lingered a few minutes, long enough to see that she got through okay, and then we drove home.

I did not enjoy the time between saying goodbye in Boston and hearing that all was well in Italy. Luckily, Cute W and I had devised a distraction.

That’s M on the left, and we hadn’t ever seen her play in a college soccer game in person. Last fall, we knew that it would be J’s last season of high school volleyball, and we weren’t sure about how much playing time M would have as a first year player. But with J out of the country and M’s second year begun, we were excited that M had two regular home games on Thursday and Saturday followed by an alumni game on Sunday, which meant it was a great opportunity to see her play quite a bit. And she played great! That was super-fun. Plus we got to meet M’s friends and parents of some of her teammates. She is happy, she is surrounded by truly wonderful people, and it was just excellent to be there.

One of Grinnell’s quirky charms is that there are train tracks that run through campus. Sometimes a train runs right by during a game.

And all weekend, the weather was beautiful. Cute W and I loved wandering around campus and checking out all the changes. They’re renovating the dorm where we met! And my native-plant-loving heart went pitter patter whenever I came across little patches of prairie plantings. Here are some flowers by the soccer field, and if you squint, you can see the observatory looking teeny-tiny in the background.

All of this was an excellent distraction as we awaited the first reports from J’s travels and arrival. But soon enough, we heard good news on that front, too.

J’s family is lovely and she sent along video and images of her “ridiculously gorgeous” new home. Here’s one picture she sent.

The place is basically all vineyards and mountains. Here’s the view from the window of her bedroom:

This view is a still from a video that she sent, and in the video, birds fly by the window, tweeting, enhancing the it’s-possible-that-J-is-living-as-a-Disney-princess effect.

Since then, J’s enjoyed her village’s annual festival, celebrated her host sister’s birthday at a pool party, made tomato sauce with her host mother, and made friends with kids from Germany, Argentina, and Taiwan among others at a Rotary retreat. She’s been having tons of fun. She starts school tomorrow, so that will likely be a challenge, but so far, it’s been fantastic.

One Comment

  1. Nana in Savannah

    Loved all the photos! You two have done a great job raising two caring and interesting young women.
    Love you all!

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