My latest piece about travels with, or rather, to my sons is now up in The New York Times Travel section. (And yes, I got permission from Theo before I wrote the piece, in case anyone wants to bring that up.) The first draft I wrote had much more of a house and garden style, so I'll give you some of that here....but I am pleased with the travel version as well. These essays are so much fun to write. I have to say, this business of being the mother to children grown and flown the coop is something else....

I hope you enjoy the Times piece, and here's the bit from the cutting room floor:

"Theo gave me the full tour. It took a minute or two. But I paused to check every piece of the furniture he had made. It was stunningly, mind-bogglingly, beautiful. Well-designed, sturdy, and handsomely crafted. I know. I checked for wobble, examined the joints, measured the angles of the screws, eyeballed their carefully symmetrical placement. There was nothing to criticize. I immediately placed an order for a card table.

Here and there, throughout the apartment, on shelves and counters, I spotted little vignettes of exactly the sort I create in my own home. With exactly the things I used to have in my own home. These are the artful little ways with which we distract ourselves from problems like moldy smells, or stained carpeting, or loud neighbors. An iron teapot nestled against a ceramic cup. A Shiva Lingham Stone on a shelf (not for nothing is this son studying Buddhist philosophy.)

On the walls were hanging scraps of excess lumber, which Theo had painted and from which were dangling string and feathers. Exactly the sort of thing I love. But as I was taking the tour of his home, I realized that even if I had a critical comment to make, what houseguest makes biting remarks about her host’s décor? One who will not be invited back. Had I not trained my sons that the kindest thing to say, ever, in a pinch, was “Wherever did you find that lamp?”

Theo did not have a car, so we settled into a familiar routine established during college days. Driving my rental car to Target for supplies, Theo discussed the challenges of living on his own. “I think the tub leaks when I shower.” We bought shower curtains. “Isn’t it hard to pour boiling water from the pot to a teacup without spilling most of it?” We bought a kettle. “I should have taken the vacuum cleaner you offered me from home.” We bought a broom.

But these were refinements, many of which should be considered Advanced Housekeeping. Theo had it all under control." 


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