Weekend at Home

When he’s not here, I miss hearing him play the piano. This weekend he was working on a Rachmaninoff piece for his piano class.

My son was home from school this weekend. He just felt the need for a break from college, and I think he actually missed us. The feeling was mutual.

Getting him home for a weekend requires a little bit of driving. It would be simpler if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic; he could take a bus. Given the prevalence of the virus, I wouldn’t want him to do that this year. So my husband and I drove down to get him on Friday (it’s a little less than 2.5 hours, if traffic isn’t bad), arriving just after the end of his last class.

We stopped for a sandwich to eat in the car, and then drove back home, with Bob and I listening to classic rock tunes most of the way up, and singing along with Meatloaf and the Eagles, while Jon played Geometry Dash on his phone.

Saturday at home we mostly hung out, let Jon do his laundry, and listened to him practice some Rachmaninoff on the piano (he’s a music major). Then we ordered pizza and had a Game of Thrones Season 3 marathon.

Sunday morning Bob was hoping we would be in the car heading back by 10. I thought that was unrealistic and suggested we aim for noon. Then Jon slept way later than he was supposed to, and we got on the road around 1:30 pm. Oh, well. The weather was lovely, and traffic was light, and we arrived in town with plenty of time to stop for an early dinner at Vito’s outdoor patio and still expect to drive home before dark.

Naturally, what we expected had very little to do with what actually happened. After our meal we drove to the dorm and stopped in the driveway nearby. Jon unloaded his stuff from the car: his phone, his backpack, a laptop case, a shopping bag of snacks I put together for his dorm room, and a big pillow case stuffed with his clean laundry. He pulled out the student ID he would need to get into the building, and was having trouble juggling the rest. Parents are not allowed in the dorm, so we couldn’t help him carry his stuff in. I suggested he stick his phone in the shopping bag to free up his hand. Instead, he stashed the phone in the pillow case. I kissed him goodbye, and told him to think about whether he wanted to come home for Easter. And he headed inside while we drove away.

Twenty minutes later, heading up I-81, I heard my phone ring. I didn’t recognize the number, so I assumed it was someone wanting to talk about my car’s extended warranty or my potential contribution to a political campaign. I ignored it. A minute later, it rang again, from the same number. The third time I picked it up. It was the student in the dorm room across from my son. Jon took the phone and told me he was calling from a neighbor’s phone because he couldn’t find his. He wondered if it was still in the car.

I reminded him that I had watched him put it in his laundry bag, and he said he checked and hadn’t found it. We pulled off at the next exit and doublechecked to make sure it wasn’t in the car. I figured it must have fallen out of the bag, which was just a pillow case that didn’t close on top. He’d already retraced his steps, but he did so again, and still didn’t find his phone. Bob called Jon’s phone, so he could listen for it ringing, in case it was in his room, lost in a pile of laundry. But he heard nothing, and thought he might have had the ringer on mute. We suggested he go to his R.A. to ask where someone who found a phone outside the dorm might turn it in. He called us again a bit later to say it hadn’t been turned in yet. And he asked if we could come back to help him. He sounded so bewildered and upset that we agreed, and turned the car around.

Twenty-five minutes later, my phone rang just as we pulled to a stop outside the dorm. The caller ID showed Jon’s number. He had found the phone! He’d remembered that he had a phone-finder app he could access from his laptop, and discovered that the phone was right there in his room. It took a while, but he’d finally located it behind the bed. Apparently the phone had fallen out when he’d tossed the laundry bag on the bed, and slipped behind it.

I was so relieved. I knew he’d be freaking out if he hadn’t found it. And I realized what I’d been dreaded the most wasn’t even the thought of a lost or possibly stolen phone (and stolen ATM card, which was in his phone case). It was all the administrative hassles that a lost or stolen phone and credit card creates. And the difficulties he would face trying to get along without a phone on a college campus, even for a couple days.

He came out to meet us at the car, said he definitely wanted to come home at Easter, and even told us he loved us. I suspect he was relieved that we weren’t angry with him.

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