Europe in my mind

Me in Berlin, at the Memorial for the Jews, 2007

Elmo and his friends at the gardens of Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg, Austria, 2017

I have fond memories of Europe. I was there for eight weeks ten years ago and my stay in Germany will always stand out as one of the best experiences of my life.

Now my youngest son, Elmo, is in Austria for a musical competition, and some more concerts and workshops. I had worked hard to send him there.  It is perhaps fitting that he left on the day he turned 15 -- it was, indeed, a birthday gift.

Theirs is a party of 69 with 32 orchestra members and 37 chaperones.  So yes, other moms (dads, sisters, aunts uncles, godmothers) are there as well.  I thought long and hard why I did not even make the effort to insert myself into the picture.

Oh, it would have been nice to go, but I would not have been able to afford it and I would not want to rob my son of the great experience of traveling alone.  If I were a kid I would appreciate, too, that I was in a foreign country by myself, without the smothering presence of my family. My two-month stay in Germany gave me enough detachment and enough of a clear head to take active steps to live the way I wanted. I'm curious -- what wonders will it do my son?

And so these days I stand by for photos on Facebook, not necessarily from Elmo's wall, so I can put them in a folder for future looking back. I am happy just imagining that the little baby I once held has started spreading his wings -- even if he had to lug around a bulky viola with him.


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