We took Robbie to Oswego yesterday to start college (Nate, Robbie and I went on a visit there two years ago: https://missionofcomplex.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/road-trip/).
It was wonderful to move him in – his records, fridge, etc. – and his room is big enough, with a wonderful view of Lake Ontario. After sending him to Brazil last year, dropping him off 2 1/2 hours away from Cooperstown is a breeze.
Still, Nate was concerned that we would all cry. That is what happened when we parted at Albany Airport last year. Sweetly he attended to Karen, very solicitous as he patted her shoulders and periodically checked that she was OK. She was.
While I took great pleasure in saying goodbye to Robbie, knowing he was about to begin his adult life and the four years of college that are bound to shape him forever, I couldn’t help but compare Nate and Rob.
Yes, I revel in Nate’s distinct character and embrace his unique achievements. Yes, I have written before that while I may bemoan the missing pieces of Nate’s life, he doesn’t. Still, Nate lived at home while he attended SUNY-Cobleskill, while Rob is out in the world. Rob is mostly mature, Nate is far from it and may never get there.
To prove that point, we headed out of campus towards downtown Oswego. Yes, there is such a thing. Nate had six toilaroids (bathroom pictures, to you new readers) he needed to take. Could there be a more glaring sign of how Nate is, in some areas, treading water?
Actually, there can. We saw Azteca Mexican Grill, a restaurant that looked underwhelming from the outside, but turned out to be excellent. Nate’s been venturing into the world of Taco Bell, and it seemed like he would do well at Azteca. He enjoyed the chips, but ordered chicken fingers and fries from the children’s menu (12 and under). When they came, he gave them a suspicious sniff and said, “Uhh, I’ve had enough food.”
I offered him some spanish rice, which he picked at. Karen handed him a chicken flauta. Nate took it in his right hand, grabbed a chicken tender with his left, and put them both to his nose for a smell test.
He decided the tender was the lesser of two evils and took a dainty, experimental bite. Immediately he made the motions of getting ready to throw up. He gagged, his eyes popped, his cheeks expanded like Dizzy Gillespie’s. It’s never pretty and panics us all.
He eventually settled down, excused himself and reemerged from the bathroom minutes later. Whether he heaved or not we still don’t know for sure.
Rob was a mile away with his roommate, at the onset of his adult life, no turning back. Nate is a million miles from that. Sometimes the contrasts are hard to bear.