Opinion

This empty nesting isn’t all it’s cut out to be | Latte Guy | Sept. 2

Our daughter Lauren is in Ireland where she will be spending a year studying abroad in Galway. We were all very excited about having her go to Ireland, right up until the moment it came time to say goodbye and put her on a plane.

All of a sudden, having our only daughter living halfway across the globe, separated by both a continent and an ocean, didn’t seem like such a good idea.

But there was no room in her suitcase for Wendy or I to stow away, and her first semester is already paid for, so we had to let her go.

Based on early reports, Lauren is having a grand time and Ireland is everything she hoped it would be. Normally, when one of the kids is any distance away from home we make up for his or her absence by tormenting the other one with our focused attention.

Unfortunately for us, son Adam is living and working in South Carolina, and it’s tough to adequately harass your child from a distance of more than 2,000 miles.

I can’t help but think maybe we’ve taken this empty nest thing to an unnecessary extreme.

On the plus side, we now have two empty rooms in the house in which to store more stuff, which means we can relocate some of the stuff we’re currently storing in the garage and on the dining room floor to one of the kid’s room.

I used to wonder why we stored the stuff in the first place rather than just get rid of it, but I’m an older and wiser married man now, and while I really don’t know what all it is we’re storing, I do know enough not to ask why we’re doing it.

I’ll have plenty of time to think about Ireland, Myrtle Beach and our available in-house storage options because I’m taking a little time off over the next couple of weeks.

Our vacation plans this year don’t include anything more exotic than a trip or two to the Lynwood Theatre and plenty of quality time with the dog/substitute child in the yard.

I’ve been stockpiling books to read in those moments when I’m not actively correcting the dog’s posture or checking the crime statistics for Galway and Myrtle Beach.

This summer’s reading list includes Michael Chabon’s young adult novel “Summerland,” a story about baseball in the same sense that Richard Brautigan’s 1960s classic “Trout Fishing In America” was about trout fishing.

Speaking of fishing, the second book on my stack is a special 20th anniversary edition of “The River Why,” by David James Duncan, a book that really is about fishing written by the guy who wrote “The Brothers K,” the best spiritual novel about baseball, religion and the Vietnam War ever set in Washington state.

The final entry on my vacation reading list is “Moby Duck” by Donovan Hohn. It’s a nonfiction, book about 28,800 rubber ducky bath toys that were lost at sea and the beachcombers, oceanographers, environmentalists and fools (including the author) who went in search of them.

I’ve got a few other plans for my time off, including getting into better shape, losing a little weight, mastering a foreign language, learning to play the piano, teaching the dog a new trick, reinventing the wheel, smelling the roses and reorganizing my CD collection in reverse alphabetical order so I can stop having to bend over whenever I want to listen to Neil Young or Tom Waits.

Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan and the Byrds are just going to have deal with being on the bottom shelf after all these years of living high on the CD shelf hog.

In addition to the things I’m planning to accomplish during my vacation, I have an equally important list of things I have no intention of doing while I’m at home. For example, I won’t be sanding and painting the trim on the house, nor will I be caulking the bathtub and shower.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be sanding the wood floors and refinishing them, and I absolutely won’t be cleaning the rain gutters or shampooing the carpets. After all, I need to save something for the kids to do if they ever drop by for a visit.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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