Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perhaps my grandchildren will eat prawns...

So in the middle of a pleasant lunch the other day, my son said, “Cory and Kat and I have been talking about moving to Liverpool.”

He said it the same way he might have mentioned, “We’re thinking of moving to Marshalltown,” or “Cory and I took the dogs disc-golfing.”   In his mind, it seemed to be a statement that might merit an “Oh, really?” but certainly nothing more worthy of emotion.

It’s long been a fact in our family that I’d prefer the children move no farther than the end of the block; my dream would be that my grandchildren would be able to run a few houses down the street to challenge me to an after-school game of Scrabble or split a pack of Swiss cake rolls.

But given that we all know my fantasy is just that, my wise son decided to take a different tack: He’d throw out a place he knows I Iove with the hope that I’d be too overcome with possibility to begin whining. This time, it may have worked.

We visited England in May and Liverpool was my favorite city, hands-down – a wonderful mix of centuries-old cathedrals, contemporary street art, interactive museums and such curiosities as Ringo Starr’s old house. I’ve said many times that I’d love to go back and stay a while. So what better way to sway me, my son reasoned, than to ply me with the promise of a vacation home?

“Once we find good jobs and start making money, we’ll get a nice place,” he said. “And you can come and stay, like, a month. You can even come and retire there.”

Retiring there probably won’t work – first, I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be able to afford to retire. And second, there’s the matter of my other child, who might (fingers crossed) actually decide to stay close to home (alas, most likely not down the street). And then there's my husband. And my extended family. 
But a month’s vacation in Liverpool each year – that, I could handle. Wandering the streets eating scones and those savory little pies. Visiting the Beatles museum as often as I’d like. Watching the ferries chug out across the Mersey afer being filled with goods by guys who sound like the cartoon characters in the Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" video. Touring cathedrals. Reading to grandchildren who will have delightful little accents and wear knee-high stockings and eat prawns. 

Traveling to Liverpool wouldn’t be cheap, but there are great deals to be had online. And if you book way in advance, it’s even cheaper. And how great would it be to spend Christmas in England? We could take the whole family, and … on and on and on ...

In all reality, though, even with college degrees, succeeding in another country won’t be easy for the kids; first of all, England is expensive. Second, Scott has no idea what he wants to do with his freshly minted sheepskins. Third, did I mention that England is expensive?

And fourth, I don't want my kids to move away. I'll never, ever want that.

But I totally understand why the idea of a new beginning in a fascinating place is attractive to Scott ... he has always had a bit of wanderlust as well as an innate curiosity about the rest of the world. As Kat is from South Africa, so England would be a nice geographical compromise for the two of them.

And it’s a cliché, but it’s also true: The world is much smaller than it used to be. When I moved two and a half hours east after college graduation, my homesickness – in a time of expensive long-distance phone calls – knew no bounds. When Scott studied near London two years ago, we Skyped several times a week.

So … could it be that my Italian-mother stranglehold is weakening?  Or am I simply softening in my old age?

Probably the latter. It’s taken me about 7,500 years, but I’m warming to the fact that things won’t always go my way. My kids are 24 and 21; they’re talented and kind and generous and wonderful, and they deserve to chase their own dreams. And in the overall scheme of things, everything does tend to work out the way it’s supposed to.

Plus, nothing can quite seal a deal like the promise of grandkids who look and sound like Harry, Ron and Hermione. See you across the pond, mates.

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