Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If She's 23, This Must Be Germany

This morning at 6 AM Elisabeth boarded a plane bound for Germany. Is it just a coincidence that when I was exactly the same age, 23, I also went to Germany alone? That trip was life-altering for me in so many ways that still have a daily impact today, 28 years later. I fell in love on that trip and although I didn't marry Thomas, he still remains a dear friend today. But more significantly, I believe that had I not gone on that trip and fallen in love, Tom and I wouldn't be married today, just a few months away from celebrating our silver (25 years!) wedding anniversary.

When I went to Germany in 1980, I had finished college and had applied to the Stanford Graduate School of Education. A few weeks after arriving in Germany, I received a telegram (you're snickering!) from my parents, notifying me that I had been accepted. Coincidentally, Elisabeth has also applied to graduate school, a Nurse Practitioner program through a local Seattle university and, like me, she'll hear from the admissions office while she's abroad. (Unlike me, though, the mode of notification will be immediate and far less expensive.)

I don't expect that Elisabeth will fall in love on this trip (though I wouldn't be surprised if she did), but I do think the trip will have a significant impact on her life. The timing is perfect for her to be traveling alone, though two weeks is nowhere near enough. Unfortunately, Elisabeth never had a chance to travel after graduating from Cal two years ago because she'd been recruited directly out of school and began work within a week of graduation. She landed a fabulous job as a medical device rep for a company that gave her a car (including paying for gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.), a laptop, a Treo, a home office, a ton of freedom, and an amazing salary. I always told her that, with a first job like that, no other job will ever be good enough. But to her credit, she didn't look at another job; instead she looked at continuing her education. I think going to grad school is a great idea for her, but I'm so glad she's traveling a bit first. I only wish that she could really immerse herself in another culture for a few months on end, like her cousin Dawn did in India.

When we were in Germany last September, Elisabeth went to the Oktoberfest with Geoffrey's son Lionel, while I headed to Nurnberg to visit Thomas and his family. At Oktoberfest, Elisabeth met the guys in a fairly well-known German band, and she and a woman who she also met in Munchen last fall will be traveling with them while she's in Germany. How much fun is that?! Ah, to be 23 again!

Or maybe not. Having my life turned upside-down at 23 was exciting and exhilarating and the mystery of what my future had in store for me was filled with positive promise and hopeful anticipation. I have a feeling that having one's life turn upside-down at 51 is a very, very different experience, and nowhere near as positive and exciting as it is at 23. So this time I'll live vicariously through my daughter, eagerly awaiting notification that she's arrived and that her adventures have begun.

Elisabeth, that's code for you to call or e-mail me and let me know you've arrived! ;-)

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5 comments:

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It sounds like great fun! Yay, Elisabeth!

Blog Antagonist said...

Good grief, and I can scarcely stand to let my kid ride the bus everyday. The courage...it comes with time, right?

Carol said...

It does come with time -- although I have to admit that I already commented on her Facebook account. ("This is your mother; let us know you arrived safely..." Am I bad, or what?!) It really never truly goes away, though.

Thanks for reminding me to write about the physical sigh of relief I let out when my whole family is in my presence. When you have four that are pretty much independent and driving, there's a PHYSICAL sense of relief when I know they're all home and safe.

Elisabeth has always been SUPER self-sufficient and independent, though. Whenever she's told of some hardship she might have traveling, even something specific, her reaction is almost always "I'll deal with it when the time comes and work things out just fine." Often, that's just a matter of being friendly -- which she can certainly turn on! (Oh wait -- maybe that's flirtatiousness that she turns on!)

Carol

susan said...

What an exciting adventure for her. Although I can't even imagine how hard it would be to let...and encourage one of my kids to do that. Of course, I would...but I'd be a mess.

She's let you know she's arrived hasn't she? (see, there I go worrying about someone else's kid!)

Carol said...

Thank goodness for my blogging friend, Vailian, whose son (and his friends) she is with. He has already let me know that she arrived safe and sound.

Carol

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