Sunday, August 24, 2008

California Dreamin'

So, Lauren is officially off at school. She headed back yesterday. It feels weird. I’ve never gone longer than two weeks without seeing her and that was only once when she was out of town. It’s not like she’s in another state or anything, but I seriously doubt she’ll be coming home that often with the gas prices being so high, not to mention the amount of study time she’ll be putting in this semester.

We were talking about her cooking yesterday (especially to save money by not eating out) and it hit me just how clueless she is about cooking and grocery shopping. I actually feel guilty that I never forced her to learn how to cook. First of all, I’m no Betty Crocker, but there are a number of dishes that I can cook and cook well, though that hasn't always been the case. I’ve also been known to pull out the cookbook and try something new every now and then. (Granted, not as often as I should) Overall, cooking isn’t something I enjoy that much so don’t let me give the false impression that I’m really into it, because I’m not. However, I might like it much more if someone came along behind me and cleaned up the mess.

Lauren can make breakfast stuff, spaghetti and she loves the frozen pasta dinners that you toss into a pan for a ready-made meal, but that’s about the extent of her kitchen skills. I’m going to email her some easy recipes and suggest some must have items to have on hand for cooking at all times.

As she was leaving yesterday I thought back to the first time I moved away from home and just how clueless I was. I was eighteen-years-old and wet behind the ears with a two-month-old baby in tow. We were moving to Ft. Ord, California so Les could attend DLI for a year. My parents both took a week off from work to drive our car to California for us. Lauren and I were flying there courtesy of Uncle Sam. The plan was that mom and dad would arrive a few days after we did and stay for a week to help us get unpacked and settled into our new place. We had movers, also courtesy of Uncle Sam, to transport all of our earthly belongings from Texas to California.

We were moving into a 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom trailer located on Ft. Ord Military Base. We’d lived in a small house just a few blocks from my parent’s home right after we’d gotten married, but were only there for a few months before Les left for boot camp then I moved back home. I never really got domesticated or experienced being on my own until the move to California.

The movers came with all of our stuff that week and mom and dad helped us get all set up. We had hand-me-down couches (that actually received lots of compliments that year), a small dining table, our bed and dresser and Lauren’s crib and furniture. The trailer we rented was new and very nice and spacious. The trailer park itself looked like a regular little neighborhood/community complete with driveways and fenced in back yards. When we were done unpacking, it looked good, especially for a young married couple just starting out. We were very proud of our new home.

I’ll never forget how scared I was when it came time to drive my parents to the airport and say our goodbyes. I was 1800 miles from home and had no idea when we could afford a visit back to Texas or if my parents would be back to visit us anytime soon. I was a huge Mama’s girl, totally dependent on her, and completely clueless about managing a house and family. I’d been living back at home with them for months waiting until Les finished boot camp and got his official orders to move to California. My parents were very attached to Lauren (she’d come home from the hospital to their house) and were emotional about leaving us, too. I felt a panic set in as they started to board their plane back to Texas. How was I ever going to survive so far away from home, especially with Les being in school for such long hours and not having any friends or family nearby? I had pretty good maternal instincts but what if I couldn’t get Lauren to sleep at night and mom wasn’t around to help me when she was cranky? How was I going to care for this baby all by myself? (Les didn’t count; he was pretty clueless about babies back then). I was terrified. I was also sad that it would likely be many months before I would see them again. I’d never been away from home before (besides church camp) and it felt like I was being thrown to the wolves.

Did I mention that I also didn’t know how to cook a blessed thing? The most I was capable of cooking was a grilled cheese sandwich, scrambled eggs and bacon. Once, I’d even once blown up a glass dish that I was cooking bacon in while in the microwave. (There was a huge explosion and shards of glass covering the inside of the microwave) Oh, and I used to stir hamburger meat for my mom if I happened to be in the kitchen while she was cooking and she asked me to. That was the extent of my cooking capabilities and nothing more. I’m so not kidding. I had no idea how to make a meal if it didn’t come right out of a package and go straight into the microwave. Les could cook but it wasn’t exactly ideal for him to do so considering he was leaving the house everyday at 5am for PT, in class all day long and then studying for several hours every night. He was learning to read, write and speak Korean, which was intense, and he didn’t have time for much else during the week. If left up to me, we would’ve starved to death or just lived strictly on grilled cheese.

That next year would prove to be a challenge, complete with financial stress, homesickness, cooking 101, meeting new friends and learning to adjust to Military life 1800 miles away from home. (To be continued).


teresa said...

I know this is a long link, but you need to get this book for Lauren. It's GREAT! My mom got it for me the first time I moved out. It has everything from basic recipes, to conquering the grocery store (how to buy vegetables & fruits), how to do laundry, simple 1st aid solutions, getting sick solutions, car maintenance, its great. The name is: Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? Surviving Away from Home. You can order it online & ship it straigt to her. Let me know what you thik. I love you!

Carri said...

Thanks, teedee! I'll definitely look into that. Actually, I might need a copy for myself. There are a number of things I've yet to master on my own. No one ever told me light bulbs don't change themselves. :)

I love and miss you, too!

Darla said...

wow, look how far you have come! LOL! Such a sweet story! I would miss my mom too!

teresa said...

Did you get a chance to go to the link & see the book. I still use mine. It is all worn out.

Ronni said...

Some things you have to learn on your own...

Ronni said...

Are you guys evacuating, Carri?