Cold Turkey

September 3rd

Two of the the three weeks Steven will be in London have passed and I haven't heard a word after his initial "I'm fine" email. Early in the his time away, he posted two photos on Instagram, which were reassuring, and then that proof of life source dried up. No texts, no calls, no emails. At least, not to me. What is left is his bank account. I've never before looked at his transactions. He is responsible for managing his money and I am connected only because he opened it before he turned 18. Now, it is the thread holding together my somewhat unraveled sanity; every time I see a new transaction, I breathe a sigh of relief.

And then my overly active imagination gets back to work and presents the following sampling of explanations for this baffling situation:

He didn't actually leave the country. He is shacked up with a girl, or a boy, or a gaggle of people, and sent his debit card with a friend after giving them a list of souvenirs he wants from the UK.

He made it to London only to be kidnapped. He is tied to a chair in a dank, dark basement and someone else is using his debit card to withdraw cash and occasionally visit a coffee shop. He may or may not be released in time to catch his return flight home.

He made it to London, settled in to his dorm room, went to start classes, and then discovered the program is a fraud and he is actually working in a sewing factory, stitching, by hand, details onto couture gowns. He is required to use his debit card to purchase supplies. He will be allowed to come home next week.

He made it to London, settled in to his dorm room, started classes, is exploring the city, and is having the time of his life. He and a pal made a bet about who could last the longest without contacting home and he is determined to win. Especially because he made a large bet on a sporting event of some kind (can 18-year-olds even bet?) and owes serious money or bones will be broken. It won't be enough, but the bits of money he takes from the bank are enough to pay the interest on his debt.

He's his own person, he's having the time of his life, and, even across a continent and an ocean, he can feel my deep, abiding love for him. He learned it is less expensive to take a larger amount of money out at once rather than pay an international processing fee on every transaction, which is why his account is showing fewer daily withdrawals. He is growing and he is working hard. He knows he will be home soon, feels mildly guilty during the rare moments when he thinks of home because he knows he probably should stay in better touch, he looks forward to sleeping in his own bed, and he is grateful I taught him to fly at such a young age.

All of these are possibilities.

Nah, just kidding. That last one is ridiculous even for my wildly adventurous imagination. The others, though, are totally plausible. Anyone want to make a bet on the most likely scenario?! (No kneecaps, or other precious body parts, will be harmed as a result of such a bet.)

September 6th

Fellow fans of the wandering Steven, you may now join me in resting easier. He is having, as we all anticipated, the time of his life. I am deeply aware of the fact that he is experiencing something few adults, let alone 18-year-olds, will; I am grateful to be able to help him experience this dream-come-true.

Here is an excerpt from a message he sent today (he couldn't get the photos to attach so no visuals to share, for now):

"As you can probably imagine London has been an incredibly hectic experience so far. I write this shortly before I take the tube to my engineering class. This will be mostly pictures with some descriptions to go with them. In summary, however, it has been great. I am staying in a student living complex on the east end of London, but I have been all over London. At least all over London in tube zones 1-3, which is where our oyster cards (sort of) fence us in. I've been to record stores, bookstores, pubs, clubs, museums, churches, theaters, and whatever else you can think of as existing in London or any other large city. The one thing I have not done much of- without regret- is sleep. I stay up late talking and exploring and get up early for class and more exploring. I figure I have about a week to recover when I get back."

September 21st

Today was Steven's first day of school. I didn't hear from him. Yet, I'm smiling.

He is ready. And so am I because he prepared me by disappearing off of the face of the earth for two and a half weeks. I didn't shed a tear when we drove away from campus on Sunday; my boy is ready.