Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baatan Death March? No, our baby is going to college

Meaning no disrespect to the real American and Filipino victims, my husband and I just finished a deadly march of sorts – down the east coast of the US to look at universities with our daughter. We saw 10 in 12 days. That’s a lot of universities and a lot of travel. I can’t tell you which ones or what my daughter thought about them. That’s her story. Our story is about what will be probably our last road trip together. We always knew she would leave but now we’re accompanying her on her shopping trip for the next chapter of her life. At Heathrow airport, she’s excited. We’re a little sad.

We start in Boston – America’s ultimate college town containing 50 college and universities with 250,000 students. What a party. And here’s the good news. Logan Airport, the car rental facilities and the drive in to Boston are much improved from our day or even the days of her older brothers. Of course we had trouble finding our hotel off Boston Common because 1) there was a huge Greek Independence Day Parade taking place and 2) it was “off the Common” in an uncommon way so after a stressful time in the car, we unloaded, unpacked and hightailed it to Radio Shack to buy a GPS thinking that would solve our navigational problems. Hahahahahahah.

The Boston Park Plaza Hotel was awful by the way. If you have never been roused at 2:00 in the morning in the same room as your teenage daughter unhappy to be sleeping in the same room as her snoring parents (that should have been a suite with privacy) to race down 9 flights of stairs to find a lobby full of clueless guests and staff and fire department, to go back up and have it all happen again at 3:00 – well, you just haven’t lived.

But the universities were great. Our child, our little Chouchou, was off and running towards her future. After all the discussion, meetings and SAT practice, our very English daughter was getting her first real taste of the American university experience and it looked, as we hoped it would, very appealing. She’s thinking of her favorite films -  Good Will Hunting and the Social Network. We’re thinking of Animal House. Everyone’s happy.

So back in the car and on to Providence. An easy run. No arguments. The Hotel Providence was as wonderful as the Boston Park Plaza was awful and Providence has gone through a rejuvenation that we found inspiring. Go America!

Back in the car. The GPS doesn’t do its thing. An unholy row breaks out in the front seats. In the back, Eloise puts on her headphones and settles in to watch Game of Thrones on her laptop –  less violence and more interesting than what was transpiring up front.

We spent a fun and relaxing night with my brother in Rye, New York where I grew up. I walked by our old house, and by all the houses of my childhood that have quadrupled in size. Progress they say. Monuments to consumption I say. Where are the city planners? But enough whinging. On to the train and into Manhattan.

Manhattan looked great.  Our hotel, The Jade on 13th between 5th and 6th was really nice. Eloise went guitar shopping at Mat Uminov on Bleeker Street with Brian Cullman, world music expert and Uncle. And of course, our London-born child fell hopelessly in love with New York. You go girl but a mother worries. Is she tough enough? She thinks so. Let her go Mama Bear.

Back in the car and on to Philadelphia. Talk about rejuvenation, Philly looks amazing. We stayed with children of friends in a fab house on Lombard Street who are managing careers, babies and renovations with aplomb. Hooray for all the young families who are reclaiming American cities and for the cities that are embracing them.

Back in the car. GPS argument. Out come the headphones. On goes Game of Thrones.

We arrive in Washington, DC without that much nasty traffic and have a great dinner with all our friends and family who live there and who have known Eloise since she was born. Of course everyone is interested in what she has seen, liked and will see in the next few days. They are supportive. Eloise is diplomatic. It’s all good.

Back in the car. Monsoons. GPS argument. North Carolina, more wonderful family and friends. And then we were done. 12 days, 10 schools, 690 miles. Through it all, Eloise was good spirited. We saw so many wonderful universities. We had lots of fun. Last night Eloise flew back to London with her father to get ready for the start of school. I am spending an extra week in NC to see family and friends and check on the farm.

This morning she sent me a Facebook message. “Do you miss me yet?” followed by a weeping emoticon.

She has no idea.