Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Every 18 Year Old Boy Dreams of...

Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for.
Ogden Nash, "The Parent," Happy Days, 1933

When I was 19 years old, I enrolled as a junior at Michigan State University. With two years of community college behind me, I drove myself the two and a half hours to East Lansing for summer orientation. I registered, bought my books and paid for my first quarter of tuition and living from my own bank account. All that jazz.

When school began in the fall, I lived in a dorm. A few freshman lived on my floor and come to find out, they had attended a different summer orientation. One where their parents had attended as well and spent the night in a dorm. I had to chuckle to myself. As a transfer student, that option wasn't offered to me and besides, no way in hell would my parents have done that. My mom sleeping in a bunk bed? In a dorm? With other parents? I don't think so.

I just returned from orientation at the University of Alabama with Ian. No way in hell did I sleep in a bunk bed either. Ian stayed in the dorm. I had my own hotel room. Me, myself, and I. A remote control. A bottle of wine brought from home. A cooler of fresh berries to savor. Bag of cheese puffs. Worked for me.

Yes, for those of you that have been here before, Ian's turn to road trip with mom. (New readers - my kids just love this.) Complete with AAA guidebooks. Instead of heading west as I did with Jordan driving to Flagstaff, Arizona on this road...

...we went the other way. A new part of the country to explore. Road trip - always an adventure.

As usual, took FOR EV ER to get out of Texas, but most surprised at the beauty of the Piney Woods.

The Mississippi at Vicksburg, MS
The casino over on the right. I can't believe all the casinos everywhere. My husband and I are not gamblers, so always surprises me to see how many exist and in such odd places. When I grew up, you could only gamble in Las Vegas. And Monte Carlo.
Finally we arrived at the University of Alabama. Here's a view of The Quad.

Ian's college - the football stadium conveniently located next door.

The President's home - one of the only buildings to survive the Civil War.
The library - I took this photo so Ian could read this and recognize the building while he's there. (I bet they let you inside there, too, Ian.)

After two days of "disorientation" and the up/down emotion of the reality of his decision, more familiarity with the campus gained, classes registered for and a quick peek at the future dorm room, we were ready to hit the road. Had intended to visit the Alabama or Florida beaches on the way home. Followed the oil stories and felt this wasn't the best time to take a dip in the ocean. I'm so sorry for that as I've never seen the sugar white sand beaches. Hopefully, soon...

Instead, we drove to New Orleans.
And saw the Mississippi way down the road from our previous stop. We walked a mile or more. Doesn't seem fair that New Orleans and the gulf regions affected by the hurricanes again face such devastation. Although, crowds shared the sidewalks with us and we found a great deal on a hotel in the French Quarter. A few oyster houses had no oysters to sell and some of the gumbo was missing a little of the local fare. But, we didn't care.

New Orleans - what fun!

Here's Ian talking to his dad on the phone with St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square in the background. I handed the phone to Ian after his Dad said, "I've never been to New Orleans," in one of those poor, woe-is-me, voices.

Yeah, and I've never been to Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Seattle, or Prague. Here's a few photos I took on our walk.

I'm thinking we'll be back. Bring that husband of mine so he can say he's been here, too. Ian had his red beans and rice and I had some delicious craw fish quesadillas. Had exhaustion not permeated our minds from our two day stress fest, I would have made a fine dining reservation as Ian, the future chef, appreciates good food. But the meals we chose comforted our weary college orientation souls.

In answer to the title of this piece - What Every 18 Year Old Boy Dreams Of... A road trip with Mom, right? RIGHT! That's what you were thinking.


Every 18 year old boy's dream...

walking down Bourbon Street with his mother.
Go visit the south. They need us and there is much to enjoy.


  1. Yes I am sure that is what they dream of!! LOL!! Beautiful pics and what a great trip you both had. Congrats to Ian on completing a successful orientation!!! Now he is ready to go!!

  2. Now that's a great memory to treasure...road trip with the kid...I admire your relationship through those turbulent years....well done Mom!

  3. Do your sons know what a great* mom you are, Julie, and what a great* sense of humor you have?'re a great* writer!


  4. I enjoyed reading this post. I sense a special relationship and bond between the two of you.

    And, I envy your road trip. So much of this country that I haven't seen. Thanks for including the pictures.

  5. What a great road trip! Thanks so much for sharing (I've never been to New Orleans, either *sniff* Someday...). How many paces behind did Ian make you walk on Bourbon Street?
    'Bama looks beautiful. Best of luck to Ian--maybe he will set foot in that gorgeous library.

  6. What a wonderful mother you are and I am sure Ian enjoyed his trip with you very much. The south does look beautiful, and like your husband I haven't been to New Orleans, now it is on my bucket list.....great post my friend, and good luck to Ian, he will positively excel I am sure even without his mom......:-) hugs

  7. You're so right about New's a gorgeous place and we all need to get back there to support those weary souls.
    Proud of you.
    And I admire your road trip with Ian...what a mom!!!

  8. Sounds to me like not only are you a great Mother but you have two exceptional sons. What a blessings.

  9. Midlife Job Hunter, first, I'm so glad you found me and came over! XOXO for that.

    Next, I read your post with joy and sadness. Joy for the experience you and your son had together, for the indiependence you exhibited as a nineteen year old, for the way that you're helping him find his wings and he's letting them fill with air. Sadness, because while I'm a teacher? Have been for 26 years? My son wants little to do with education. He's 'finding himself' in aisle 4 of our local Jewel (grocery story). I have to let him find his wings, but it's hard for me to be patient. To trust. There's nothing more that I'd like than to take him to college.

  10. I read your sentence: quick peek at the future dorm room instead as "quick peek at the female dorm room". It is early, my eyes are half open. Maybe that is what an 18 yr old boy dreams of.
    But seriously, I think it is wonderful that you guys took this trip. You and your hubs this time will be back many times!

  11. Precious few trips like this in our lives.

  12. I remember orientation from when my daughter went to hers, and it was almost as stressful as my own! And I'd have been with you, in the hotel, except with a marquerita or rum and coke!

    I'm also always astounded by the casinos and their locations. I fail to see the appeal, but apparently it's the adrenalin and maybe seratonin that it produces.

    New Orleans! Brave move in the summer unless they were having a cold front! When we were there last, we had to lay our daughter and dog out in the shade of the car with cold compresses! But it is so beautiful, especially the pocket gardens.

    Motherhood has so many perks and surprises, and I think you've experienced most of them with your boys. Good job!

  13. Seattle? Really? Looks like the momtourage needs to go there. (How about on the way to Holden Village, the best place to write in all the world?)

  14. Yet another Mom-and-boy trip to university - you're getting very practiced at this, Julie, and it shows. Great photos and s witty commentary made for an entertaining post. I do like your oft-laconic style.

    Nice to see that New Orleans has recovered sufficiently to draw back the tourists, but sorry that you've missed those beaches. Your son's a lucky guy to be going to a campus that is so rich in history and so physically appealing. Looks wonderful. Good luck to him!

  15. Looks like a great trip and college! Great photos, especially of New Orleans. Glad that you got to sample some crawfish. Next time, when you go there with hubby, I'll have to meet you there and show you around!

  16. riveted by the whole post!

    congrats again to your son.
    We'll be doing two of these soon.
    One daughter is transferring, one beginning.
    And no sleepovers People do that?

    I love the Bourbon street bonding.
    Your family loves each other well.

  17. Great Post. Getting pretty good with that camera. YEAh, I agree you are a great mom.

  18. I remember on a trip to Santa Fe about 10 years ago all the billboards were advertising the casinos...what ever happened to the art galleries etc. I wondered..sounds like you had a good trip...nothing like being on the road...lots of time for reading now...enjoy

  19. Beautiful pictures - I bet it was a great trip and a very fun experience for your both.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting! I'll be back!

  20. Now that is a fun and rewarding trip. The only way it could get better is if your son transfers to the University of Hawaii and you all road trip there.

  21. Wow, attending a U in the Deep South! That's a cultural experience, I'd wager, even for a Texan.

    Terrific pictures, and you made me want to go to New Orleans (again...don't tell your husband). But the humidity this time of year? Was it bad?

  22. Ever since I left home for college my mom and I have gotten along famously! I would have been horrified to have my folks stay in the dorms for orientation. I know it was a sad day for my mom to let go - but she did a good job getting me prepared enough to survive.

    I am sure Ian will have a ton of fun, and maybe even learn something in-between. I am trying to figure out how he is a Twins fan when you are from Texas though.

  23. Hi, I'm loving your road trip story and photos. Saw your comment on friend JDaniels4Mom blog and couldn't resist the blog name. You're a little younger than me and I can relate! Come visit my blogs, say hello and follow. I'd be honored. Keri, a.k.a. Sam

  24. Julie,

    I'm so glad you supported New Orleans - and what a good relationship you must have with your boy to have him want to spend that time with you.

    I hope some folks with teens read your posts so they know there is hope in the future!

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  26. So glad the two of you had a good road trip. *sigh* I've never been to New Orleans.

  27. I love this tradition of yours, and love even more getting to read about it. Great pictures of a really great time. I laughed at the contrast between your orientation experience and the ones your boys have had.

  28. I think it's wonderful that you are able to road trip with your kids. And brave to head out on such a long trip with a teenager! He'll treasure it more as he gets older.

    Paying for your college tuition from your own bank account - good for you. That doesn't seem to happen anymore.

    I'm dismayed with all the casinos in my state, too.

  29. Enjoyed the pictures and narrative. Boourbon Street with mom looked pretty cool to me...

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  31. Hey, I was just in NOLA on Bourbon Street! :)

    Well, I'm sure Ian is used to these trips with his mama, and it wasn't so bad. Great pics, and I love the campus photos especially.

    Are you looking at Donald Maass right now? I'm completely jealous!

  32. You know the mind of a 18 year old male mind so well! ;) Great tour of your eastern destination and sights in N.O. - a city I'd love to visit. Your comment about the library image cracked me up.

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  34. Did you stay @ Maison Dupuy? I stayed there 20+ years ago and it was very nice. Love New Orleans!

    How nice to take a road trip with your son. I would love that. I think they (the two sons) would as well. We get along famously. Unfortunately, we all work and time off is the issue.

    Enjoyed this post. Found you on Old?Who?Me? and I notice you read a number of other blogs I enjoy.

  35. You're giving him one of the best gifts of his life... adventure and time with you.

    He may not tell you, but deep down inside of that boy heart, he's tucked these memories away.

  36. Hi Julie, I love road trips, and it sounds like yours was fabulous. Good plugs for visiting the Gulf Coast, pursuing higher education, and accepting the disorientation of a university's attempt at making introductions. I appreciate your stopping by my blog again and, after reading your comment, I wanted to point you in the direction of a piece I wrote a while back called "I'm Two-Faced About Facebook." Here's the link:
    ... Various perspectives on tech are mostly generational, I believe, but still... At a backyard 4th of July party, others and I were riffing on the Facebook thing. After mentioning the title of my essay, one guy suggested that there be a "Two-Facedbook." To which I said, "Yes, and you can have Fair-weather Friends!" "Right," said a third person. "And rather than 'poke' you, the system will allow them to 'stab you in the back.'" Hmm... In cyberspace, there really IS no end to the possibilities!

  37. Wow. An impressive post. The places and pictures are first class. Lots of memories there.

    I just remembered we don't have any fish recipes yet. I am trying to get some favorite family recipes from my favorite bloggers. I even started a new blog—Fat Lady Recipes—to hold them. I have received some submissions with more promised. A photo of your dish is nice but not required. A photo of yourself is required as well as your real name. Sometimes I can use your profile photo if it is not an icon.

    The Fat Lady Recipes blog should be getting some magazine coverage soon but I am not at liberty to talk about just yet.

    You don't have to be fat to share recipes.

    Fat Lady Recipes

  38. Fantastic post - full of wistfulness, facts, and humor!

    I grew up in Alabama and vaguely remember visiting the campus in my earliest years. The only that stands out now is the President's home - absolutely gorgeous, and I guess the reason I remember it so well is because of my love of architecture. Which is also why I so appreciate the fact that you included those gorgeous details on the buildings in New Orleans! You just don't see that kind of fine mill work anymore. But what got me laughing is that picture of the underside of the blue-ceiling porch - right on the bottom edge of one those beautiful fan corbels is a modern-age SECURITY CAMERA!

  39. You are indeed a great mum!
    Your photos were very diverse and beautiful and artistic.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  40. I love New Orleans. The only time I visited was with my husband while he was on business. We didn't have nearly the fun you are having. Your son will look back on this with great fondness someday. Enjoy!

  41. I recognize those streets and architecture of NO - GMR is from there :-)

    Love the image of you with your wine and fruit all cozied in your room :-D

  42. Sounds like a good trip! You are a much better mom than I am. I don't do road trips. If it's more than 4 hours away - there better be an airport nearby.

    I'm relieved to hear that my daughter is not the only one suffering from the up/down emotions of the reality of her decision (to paraphrase you). After Katie's orientation she is now convinced that she chose the completely wrong school and is going to be miserable. Lord help me!

  43. What a fab post... great times :0)

  44. No, my answer was ..."Every 18 year old boy dreams of ... a visit to a strip club before going to college. Without his mother.

    Another great road trip with a son, you'll cherish always. Great pics!

  45. What an adventure you had. Driving is the way to feel the passing of the country and see the unexpected sights along the way.

    Thanks for stopping by to say hello. I like your blog.

  46. You will look back at this moment and sigh! He'll grow more and more independent and you'll be both proud and nostalgic of the old days. Nothing stands still, except a worn out clock.

  47. What a road trip...even if it was with his mom ;)

    Reading about his orientation and registering for classes, brought back a wave of nervous nostalgia as I remember doing the same thing 20 years ago. What a time in our lives, huh?

  48. So much here on which to comment: Children growing up and moving on to wonderful futures, roadtrips with kids, beautiful photos and clever shots of awesome I will sum it all up with:


  49. Fabulous photos!

    I'm happy to hear your experience in NOLA. A few other friends have visited in the last year and had horrible experiences. I was wondering whether I'd return anytime soon.


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